News / Asia

    India-China Ties Improve but Strategic Rivalry Not Over

    Bharatiya Janata Party  (BJP) President Nitin Gadkari pays homage to martyrs of the 1962 India-China war before that start of a commemorative journey, in Gauhati, India, Oct. 18, 2012.
    Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Nitin Gadkari pays homage to martyrs of the 1962 India-China war before that start of a commemorative journey, in Gauhati, India, Oct. 18, 2012.
    Anjana Pasricha
    Fifty years after India and China fought a brief war, the Asian giants have set aside their bitter decades-long rivalry and trade is booming. But, the strategic contest between the two countries is far from over, and many in India view China as no less a threat than its other rival, Pakistan.

    1962 border war

    Officials in New Delhi have largely ignored the anniversary of the brief border war fought with China in 1962 in the high Himalayan mountains. That is not surprising - five decades ago, China inflicted a humiliating defeat on India. 

    But on the sidelines of a conference, India’s defense minister said that his country is not the same as it was in 1962 and its military can now defend every inch of India. 

    Political analysts say the comment underscores that the 1962 conflict still casts a shadow on relations between the Asian neighbors, although bilateral ties are improving.

    "There is certainly a psychological impact still very much obvious, but it has not impeded the growth of the relationship," said Alka Acharya, a professor of Chinese Studies at New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University. "Over the last decade particularly, an attempt has been made to if not entirely forget the past, at least let the bygones or let the contentious issue be set aside and let the relationship develop."

    Lingering apprehensions

    The two countries have made strides in their political relationship. And economic ties are booming - China is now India’s largest trading partner with bilateral trade at $75 billion.

    However the two nations have made little headway in resolving their 4,000-km boundary dispute despite tortuous negotiations. And mutual mistrust lingers, especially as the two growing powers emerge as competitors for more influence and resources in Asia.

    For example, China reacted strongly to a recent effort by India to search for oil in the South China Sea. And India is uneasy with growing Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean as Beijing builds ports and infrastructure in neighboring countries such as Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

    China has apprehensions about the presence of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government in exile in India. New Delhi on the other hand is suspicious of the friendly relations between China and India’s other rival, Pakistan. 

    Still a challenge

    Uday Bhaskar, a strategic analyst with the Society for Policy Studies in New Delhi, says China remains an "abiding" challenge for India.

    "There is an undercurrent of what I would describe as prickliness and apprehension about the other. And also a deeply held feeling in India that China is not very comfortable with the rise of India and seeks to contain it. Most deeply held is India’s anxiety about China’s strategic cooperation with Pakistan particularly as far as nuclear weapons and missiles are concerned. It is the way China seeks to either contain or encourage a third party like Pakistan to act in a manner that is adversarial to India’s core interest," said Bhaskar.

    Analysts say India’s heavy spending on military hardware in recent years is prompted as much by the need to counter China as it is Pakistan. New Delhi is also beefing up military infrastructure in Arunachal Pradesh, the eastern state which China claims, and where the 1962 war was fought. It is building a new highway to ease troop movements and raising four new military divisions for the frontier.    
     
    Closer economic ties

    However, analysts say that the peace that has prevailed along their disputed border is likely to continue as both countries with a population of a billion plus and ambitions to play a larger role on the global stage focus on growing their economies. 

    Alka Acharya says that over the next decade economic ties are likely to strengthen further. 

    “There are larger and larger communities, specially the trading communities in India which are also looking at China as an opportunity and the increase in trade which is happening at the middle and lower level is quite remarkable. The number of traders who are going, buying goods, selling them. China’s own growing footprint on the Indian economic scenario in terms of Chinese companies coming, Chinese investments," said Acharya. 

    Indian officials are also optimistic that there will be enough room for both countries to grow in Asia without brushing up against each other.

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Wangchuk from: NYC
    October 19, 2012 3:34 PM
    It is in India's interest to help Tibetans regain their freedom from Chinese colonial rule. India was once colonized by a foreign empire just as Tibet is today. If Tibet becomes free again, it can act as a buffer state between China & India & help maintain stability in Asia.
    In Response

    by: Freddy from: US
    October 20, 2012 11:12 AM
    "an attempt has been made to if not entirely forget the past, at least let the bygones or let the contentious issue be set aside"

    If you read any news by Indians, you can see that, right (:-? Please please don't turn the US into something like India. We do have bathrooms here. Learn to use them.
    In Response

    by: dgupta from: canada
    October 19, 2012 10:04 PM
    Its like Iraq saying to help New Mexico to be independent of USA. What a joke. We indians are always living in a dream of our own creation!

    by: Haula Chua from: USA
    October 19, 2012 9:13 AM
    Bharat Mata be extremely careful, you are flanked by two countries that have two sets of teeth. One is for display and the other set to eat.
    You have been decieved in the past by the slogan CHINI HINDI bhai bhai.
    Never ever trust by the two countries that have attacked you without any provocation by you. This son of yours will always and all ways be at your service.
    In Response

    by: Fools Paradise from: US
    October 20, 2012 11:01 AM
    @Haula Chua, where did you get your version of history? You claim you are in the USA. You do have the freedom to read news from various sources, right?

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora