“ I am firmly convinced that in future years, China and India will join hands in playing a more active role in maintaining peace and stability in the region and the world at large and make due contribution to the human progress and development”
LI PENG, Former premier of PRC

  1. The last few years have seen a considerable widening of differences between India and China over issues such as the boundary dispute, the belt and road initiative, Indian membership to the NSG, and China’s presence in South Asia and  IOR. To discuss the future cooperation between India and China, recent initiatives between both the countries are useful, timely and a necessary step because the narrative on the relationship between India and China in the last few years has been increasingly negative. As such it is an important signal of intent by both countries to revive the relationship and better understand areas of convergence. Since there are informal summits, the purpose is not clearly stated and therefore are no fixed outcomes. However, it is possible to provide a broad context to the summits and outline future cooperation efforts.

  2. India and China are both part of a complex international situation that makes it necessary for them to engage with each other. Both countries share a common periphery and are interested in keeping it stable, and free from extremism and conflict. But from the Indian point of view, growing Chinese interference in its neighbourhood including Nepal, Sri Lanka, Maldives etc has been a cause for concern. While it is unrealistic to expect China to stop asserting its influence in the periphery, it is possible to manage interests and look for an Area of Convergence.

  3. The simultaneous rise of India and China within the same geographical space has never been an easy development. Hopefully the enhanced exchange between people will strengthen the pathway for an enduring partnership. For mutual and maximum benefit, the Dragon and the Elephant have to be in the same team.


  4. India and China have had a long history of relations dating back to the pre medieval times. The new world order has had a plethora of converging interests between these two Asian giants. The multipolar world has ensured that there is hegemony in diversity due to these aligning interests. Some of the major common interests between these two countries are socio economic upliftment, unfair trade practices of the developed nation with a greater role in the global economy. Both India and China have taken a hard and united stand on these issues at various world forums.

  5. Climate change and transition towards sustainable energy are other areas of common interests for both the nations. Not only have both the countries taken concrete steps in individual capacity in this regards but are also working in unison in this regard. Both the countries took a united stand during the Paris agreement and spoke in a common voice.

  6. The rise of Muslim extremism and Islamic terrorism has not only affected India but has also become a concern for the Chinese. Therefore we can see the Chinese playing a major role in the Afghan peace process today. This has therefore developed a new area of converging interest in the form of resolution of Afghan problem and also strict action against Islamic fundamentalists.

  7. With the rise of China and the new world order China has been gushing to improve ties and solve boundary disputes with most of its neighbouring countries. To understand that it can only sustain its rapid economic growth if it has peace and tranquility along the LAC.


  8. Post-cold war India’s perspective on China is indecisive and complex. While  ascertaining a positive and realistic view of China, the Chinese threat is still lingering India’s thinking about China.

  9. Border Issues    The difference in the perception of the international boundary led to the Chinese invasion of India during 1962. The non-resolution of Aksai Chin and other boundary disputes, China has also laid claim to 90,000 square km of Arunachal Pradesh and by not resolving the boundary dispute China wants India to remain under strategic pressure. Burning issues of Doklam and Arunachal Pradesh has made the environment for both countries more tense.

  10. Tibet Issue    China’s imposition of centralised state structure provoked a Tibetan national uprising in 1959. This resulted in the exodus of the Dalai Lama, Tibetan prominent religious leader and about 100,000 othesr to India, where they were given sanctuary.

  11. Support to Pakistan    China’s support to Pakistan’s stance on Kashmir, while Pakistan’s support to China on the issue of Xinjiang, Tibet and Taiwan. Military cooperation has deepened with joint projects producing armaments ranging from fighter jets to guided missile frigates. China’s cooperation with Pakistan has reached an economic high point, with substantial Chinese  investment in CPEC which makes the relation between India and China more bitter.

  12. Strategic Encirclement    At   the strategic level, China’s strategy of encirclement vis-à-vis India is increasingly becoming evident in a three pronged manner- economic, military and diplomatic. OBOR and CPEC were boycotted by India as it affected the sovereignty.

  13. Water dispute    China’s effort to portray itself, as a credible and peaceful neighbour has been unsuccessful in more than one way. Nowhere it is more evident than in the case of water sharing of the Brahmaputra river. The absence of data sharing on the Brahmaputra during and after Doklam standoff and lack of clarity on the intent behind the 1000km long tunnel to transfer water from Yarlung, Tsangpo in Xinjiang betray China’s self declared responsible behaviour.

  14. Increasing relation between India and US    The growing relation between India and USA, China is threatened as it’s hegemony of an Asian giant is at stake. The support of US in many international forums affects the relationship between India and China. The defence development of India with the induction of new equipment from US has put China at worry. International forums like QUAD and MALABAR has made    China to rethink its strategic relation with India.

  15. Trade war between China and USA    India needs to focus on becoming a new power house as a global hub for export to cash in on US- China trade war. In the major trade standoff between China and US, many international firms that have invested in China are examining options to spread their risks and shift some of their existing and new investments to other countries.

  16. Space Warfare and Security    India must accept and deal with the reality that conflicts and Wars in today’s world will be based and driven by the increasing  inter dependence between conventional, nuclear and space war. Testing of ASAT  by India and entering into the elite countries of having the technology has affected the relation between India and China.

  17. East Asia Integration    India’s Act East policy has made great influence in the East Asian Countries and also made China hesitant to accept Indian role in East Asian regional Integration.

  19. India and China are the two most popular countries and the fastest growing economies in the world. Growth in diplomatic and economic influence has increased the significance of their bilateral relationship. The full import of an “informal summit” it is something that few outside hallowed diplomatic circle fully comprehend. Unlike a regular meeting of two heads of government that usually produce a formal statement and a series of agreements, much of the work in an informal summit rests in the realm of the intangible, results are apparent over a period of time. Most people find it difficult to assess the success of high level meetings. The fresh strains had started creeping into ties, the attempt of the two leaders is to stress the convergence and give out a positive signal rather than highlight their differences.

  20. India and China must ensure that difference does not turn into dispute, but they must address them. China is one of India’s largest trading partner and the two countries have also extended their strategic and military relations.


  21. The Sino-Indian relations have entered a new phase, where the relationship should be of sound & stable development. Under the current international circumstances, the two countries shoulder increasingly important responsibilities in safeguarding global security and promoting development. The next few years are going to be crucial for China and India to realise the national rejuvenation. The measures can therefore be broadly divided at national and military level.

    National level    Both the countries need to take a more sympathetic approach at teach other’s national ambitions and should seek a solution that is fair, reasonable and acceptable to both sides. These can therefore be summarized as follows:-

    • Trade Gap
      Ongoing US-China trade War made significant reduction in trade deficit of India with China. However, India’s import from Hong Kong exponentially increased during the same period. Following are some of the “Recommended” proposals:-
      • Various high level Economic and Trade mechanisms should be incorporated in order to enhance trade and commercial relations, as well as to better balance the trade between two countries.

      • Early negotiation of issues of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), will help India to seek free trade  zones among ASEAN member countries, China, Australia & New Zealand.

      • Easing of Visas for the Businessmen and stringent industry policies of both the countries will help in increasing the bilateral trade.  Initiative’s like e-visa policy for Chinese national will help in growing bilateral relations.
      • Opening of SEZ by China for Indian IT firm will boost the IT sector with export of software and import of hardware from China.

    Maritime Silk Route (MSR)

    This decade has seen a Chinese push for materializing its dream project of BRI & OBOR with large scale investments in previously unknown territories. OBOR and BRI have both had their share of successes and hurdles however India has been steadfast in its opposition of the same as it violates our territorial sanctity. However, the Chinese initiative of a maritime silk route (MSR) has been seen with optimism in the Indian bureaucratic and political circle. It would not only be a positive step in building our slowed down economy but would also ensure an international integration of countries like never before. However the issue to induct India  into the MSR lacks clarity as also the Chinese strategy of reviving the MSR.
    Some of the important  proposals are as follows:-

      • Definite objectives especially wrt India should be clearly defined.
      • China needs to spell out clear initiatives for India per se.
      • Indian private firms to be included in the programmes and vise versa, would surely lead to invaluable FDI flow into the country.

    Few advantages are as under:-

      • Expansion of Maritime Engagement and Cooperation.
      • Convergence in Maritime Domain.
      • Development of Maritime Infrastructure.
      • India and China can also work together on the Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief partnership (HADR).
  • Unilateral stand in International forum   

    India and China have had a long    history of relations dating back to the pre medieval times. The new world order has had a plethora of converging interests between these two Asian giants. The multipolar world has ensured that there is hegemony in diversity due to these aligning interests. India and China have taken unilateral stand on a number of occasions and these are as follows:-

      • IMF and WTO negotiation.   
      • Subsidy on agriculture.
      • Asian Oil Premium.
      • Tackling Iranian oil and US CAATSA.

      The “Recommended” proposals are as follows-

      • India and China need to undertake joint ventures in international forums.
      • Joint undertakings in various aligning matters would go a long way.
      • Jointness in UN forums and a common stand that is formalised by  documention.
  • Tourism Sector   

The tourism sector has tremendous opportunities  of bringing two nations together by building public relations and image stabilization in domestic media. Some of the “Recommended” proposals are as follows:-

    • Relaxation of travel rules and special traveling privileges and packages.
    • Cultural Exchange programmes at various levels.
    • Ease on tourist Visa is one of the primary privileges which would make traveling comfortable for tourists.

  • Religious   

They say the almighty has a way of solving even the most complex of issues. Therefore religious approach to a few issues especially specific and pertaining to Indo-Tibet boundary would play an important role in the friendship of the two nations as also increase hegemony amongst the local  populace. Following are some of the important “Recommended” proposals with this regard:-

    • Restarting of Rinkor and Kinkor pilgrimage.
    • Easing of movement to Mansrover pilgrimage.
    • Joint ventures need to be undertaken.


  • Military level   

The two countries need to effectively improve military & security exchanges and cooperation. There is a need to promote military relations along the correct directions of enhancing trust, dispelling doubts and strengthening friendly cooperation, carry out activities including professional cooperation and joint training, continuously enhance mutual trust between the two militaries, strengthen cooperation between law enforcement & security departments. There is also a need to maintain regional security and stability.

  • Enhanced Military Level Cooperation   

In the forum of international relations, military cooperation or cooperation in the militaary domain is the litmus test of a strategic relationship between any two countries. Until and unless the two nations progress on a path of military cooperation the trust factor required to develop and foster this relationship would always fall short. Following is a proposed road map with regards to the same:-

  • High Level Exchange Programmes:-
    • NCC Camps.
    • Visit to academies.
    • Attending of Military Courses.
    • Joint Expeditions.
  • Defence Ministry level meetings on half yearly/ yearly basis.
  • Joint R&D in advance technology i.e. AI.
  • Joint collaboration on space tech.
  • Joint Expedition & cycling along the LAC.
  • Mil Level games.
    • Yearly basis - Once in each country – Volleyball, Handball etc.
    • Small scale on half yearly basis near border locations.

  • Mil Level Exercises:-       
As already stated in the arena of military cooperation and  engagements, military exercises would be the final culmination or the high tide of fostering strong strategic ties that would reaffirm much needed trust even amongst the otherwise suspicious military domain. Some of the important proposals are as follows:-

  • Military exercise should be conducted over the entire Sino- India boundary with minimum one each in the Ladakh region, Central Sector and Arunachal Sector on both sides.
  • Joint training exercise can be conducted at various military establishments.
  • Joint training courses to be conducted both in India and China.

    • Boundary Issue
    This has been a major bone of contention in the Sino Indian relations and has seen both the nations take aggressive stance on a  number of occasions. However over time the stance has softened with a ray of hope of a solution to the burning issue. The boundary issue needs to be tackled not only at the strategic level but needs to flow down to the very tactical level in order to improve mutual trust and pave way for more cordial relations. Following are some of the important steps that need to be taken:-

    • Restart of senior level dialogue. Making of an independent  committee from both sides.
    • Early resolution of issue along the LAC and agreement on the final boundaries.
    • Sharing off patrolling programmes will reduce tensions among the Armed  Forces of the two countries.
    • COVID 19 and the India-China Equation   

    India, one of the world's biggest drug makers, is ready to step up exports of fever medicines and vaccines to China as it reels from a spike in COVID-19 cases.


    21. It is important to understand Chinese motivation for improving the situation with India from the perspective of geo-startegic kaleidoscope. Worsening trade situation with the U.S. and the unpredictability as U.S. administration has made the Chinese leadership nervous. As increasingly China has been making outreaches effort to countries in the periphery including Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, and Indonesia    among others. An attempt to thaw relations with India should also be seen in this context. Internally, Chinese President Xi Jinping has also been facing problems. He has not  managed to implement the market reforms that he had promised in 2013; Chinese  society is also less manageable than before in terms of societal state control and obvious  negative social media could be indicative of strain on the domestic front. On the economic front, Chinese growth is already decelerating. China used to have the ability to manipulate and control its trade flows, exchange rates and capital flows simultaneously. This ability to keep its economy afloat through tight controls, without external repercussions, is slowly unraveling. China has also been facing an increasing backlash, not from just India but other countries in Europe and elsewhere, on the economic unviability of its investment under the belt and road initiative, with no internal rates of return on these investments, the Chinese economic system is under huge strain to  cushion these shocks. Therefore, China has a special interest in pacifying its  neighbourhood, while it deals with its economic and socio-political issues . India therefore  comes central to the solution to this precarious problem. However we should move  cautiously as it is important to learn from history but also not be too pessimistic about the  future.

    “India doesn’t have one problem with China, we have a whole lot of problems pending with China”
                    - Narendra Modi

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