Home Contact Us  

India & the World - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#131, 6 August 1998
India-China Relations
Co-Director, IPCS

India-China relations suffered a serious reverse in April 1998. It was sparked off by a series of statements made by the Indian Defence Minister George Fernandes, soon after he assumed office in late March this year. An analysis of this has been made elsewhere in these web pages. Relations suffered a further setback when India conducted nuclear test explosions on 11 and 13 May 98 identifying China as the primary threat. Prime Minister Vajpayee's letter to President Clinton on 14th May, leaked to the New York Times, which spelt this out clearly was seen by the Chinese as the final proof of this change in Indian policy.



This brief analysis draws upon two statements of the Chinese Ambassador in India . He made these at an interview to a leading Delhi newspaper, The Hindu, published on 10 July and at a public address at the India International Centre on 25 July. Two remarks from the Hindu article needs to be quoted. First, referring to the statements since April, the Ambassador their effect as;



"All this has sabotaged the atmosphere of the current Sino-Indian relations, harmed the developing bilateral relations between China and India and endangered the future of the relations between the two countries."



The second, are the conditions that he ascribes to restoring good relations between our two countries, where he says:-



"However, 'it is up to the doer to undo the knot' just as a Chinese saying points out. The Chinese side hopes that the Indian side will make responsible explanations with regard to the aforesaid remarks against China , immediately stop all its accusations and take actual actions."



The Ambassador's speech at the Centre on 25 May describes China 's policy on reform and opening up, China 's foreign policy, China 's South Asia policy, and traces the history of Sino-Indian relations. The last paragraph of this talk deserves to be quoted in full: -



"Since April and May this year the Sino-Indian relations have witnessed abnormal developments. That is something we are unwilling to see. The so-called China threat to India 's security is baseless. Fictitious charges against China have greatly hurt the feelings of the Chinese people and harmed the Sino-Indian relations. What China hopes from India is neighbourliness, friendship and co-operation. What China wishes India is stability, progress and development. China does not pose any threat to India . The Chinese side could not but refute some wanton attack and accusation against China by certain personages in India in order to safeguard the friendly relations between our two countries and bring the Sino-Indian relations back onto the track of healthy development at an early date. We are glad to find that it is the common aspiration of most Indian people and persons of insight to restore and develop the friendly relations between our two countries. I sincerely hope that the Sino-Indian relations will overcome temporary difficulties and return to normal at the earliest possible time and that the friendship between our two peoples will keep growing."



The relations are presently at an all time low since 1976, perhaps even worse than 1986-87 during the Sumdorong Chu incident. The working group level meeting on 8-9 June this year was downgraded and did not discuss the LAC. The meeting was a mere formality. The next round of talks at the Joint Working Group level was to be held in August this year at Beijing , but is unlikely to take place any time soon. It is possible that the Chinese may not have ascribed too great a significance to the Defence Minister's statements. He is a known maverick and staunchly pro-Tibetan. His anti-Chinese views are known and may, therefore, have been discounted. But, the Prime Minister's letter to President Clinton was the final confirmation that the Chinese Government needed. The question today is how to bring the relations back to an even keel.



The Ambassador has repeatedly mentioned in response to questions, of India 's need to rectify the wrongs. Its Foreign Minister in Manila referred to the country tying the knot has to undo it first. The Ambassador also raised the level of 'hurt' to the formidable level of the feelings of the Chinese people. What might these imply? The Chinese Government should ofcourse have no delusion that there can be any backtracking, far less an apology of sorts from India . Even though the Defence Minister's interview to the Far Eastern Economic Review recently, was very conciliatory, the Government can hardly be expected to go back on its policies so soon.



There can be two clear deductions from the above. One, the Chinese would like to study the situation more closely before reaching a firm conclusion. There is no hurry over this. Second, there would be some doubts in their mind regarding the continuation of the current Government in India . Any serious discussion with the present Government for the time can be ruled out.



A sense of strategic partnership with the USA must be a heady affair for Jiang Zemin. Indian tests came at a particularly advantageous time for China , with Clinton 's visit so soon afterwards. Unknowingly New Delhi provided Beijing the best advantage it had so far to emerge as a global player at par with the USA . Beijing can be expected to play this card for all it is worth before giving it up.



A period of high discomfort mixed with tension is the prognostication for India-China relations for the last few years of this Century.






Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary
D Suba Chandran
Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues
Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Understanding Democracy and Diversity in J&K
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistan?s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Sri Lanka: Moving Towards a Higher Collective Outcome
The Importance of Electing the Best to our Nation's Parliament
Sri Lanka: Toward a Diaspora Re-Engagement Plan
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
Pakistan's Hurt Locker: What Next?
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
IPCS Forecast: Bangladesh in 2015
18th SAARC Summit: A Perspective from Bangladesh
Bangladesh in Global Forums: Diplomacy vs. Domestic Politics
Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet
Has President Obama Turned Lame Duck?
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticism?s Sake?

East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
India-Japan-US Trilateral: India?s Policy for the Indo-Pacific
China-South Korea Ties: Implications for the US Pivot to Asia
Many ?Pivots to Asia?: What Does It Mean For Regional Stability?
Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
Nepal?s New Constitution: Instrument towards Peace or Catalyst to Conflict?
IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015
Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?

Prof Shankari Sundararaman
IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015
Indonesia's Pacific Identity: What Jakarta Must Do in West Papua
Modi in Myanmar: From ?Look East? to ?Act East?
Sushant Sareen
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
Islamic State: Prospects in Pakistan
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir

Looking East
Wasbir Hussain
Myanmar in New Delhi's Naga Riddle
China: ?Peaceful? Display of Military Might
Naga Peace Accord: Need to Reserve Euphoria
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
Indian Ocean: Modi on a Maritime Pilgrimage
Indian Ocean: Exploring Maritime Domain Awareness
IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015

Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
US-Russia and Global Nuclear Security: Under a Frosty Spell?
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
Countering Left Wing Extremism: Failures within Successes
Return of the Native: CPI-Maoist in Kerala
The Rising Civilian Costs of the State-Vs-Extremists Conflict

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
India and the APEC
IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration
South Asia: Rupee Regionalisation and Intra-regional Trade Enhancement
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Resuming the Indo-Pak Dialogue: Evolving a New Focus
Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
Prime Minister Modi Finally Begins His Interaction with West Asia*
A Potential Indian Role in West Asia?
US-GCC Summit: More Hype than Substance
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Jihadi Aggression and Nuclear Deterrence
The Blight of Ambiguity
Falun Gong: The Fear Within

OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee


Browse by Publications

Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Naxalite Violence 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Y! MyWeb
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2017
 January  February  March  April  May  June  July  August  September  October  November  December
 2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010  2009
 2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002  2001
 2000  1999  1998  1997

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map
18, Link Road, Jungpura Extension, New Delhi 110014, INDIA.

Tel: 91-11-4100-1902    Email: officemail@ipcs.org

© Copyright 2017, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.