Cooperation without trust: India-China relations today
by Abhilash Roy Nalpathamkalam
Debates about Sino-Indian relations often start off from either one of two different, and even contradictory, schools of thought. The first of them takes a “realist” point of view, arguing that each of the two emerging powers would fight for dominance in the Asian continent. It tends to describe relations between the two countries as hostile. This could even lead to military confrontation between the two nations, or at least to an even greater militarization of the region (Roy 2011, Banyan 2012, The Economist 2012). War is only contained because both countries have nuclear weapons and are increasing and modernizing their capabilities in conventional warfare. India belongs to the group of major importers of military technology. The second school of thought takes a liberal perspective, viewing China and India as two major emerging markets in a more and more interdependent world, where trade and commerce sustain peaceful co-existence. Observing the Indian media it seems that the “China threat“ theory dominates in most news broadcasts (Banyan 2012). This paper intends to review the current relationship between China and India and to analyse where India and China are cooperating, why they do so, and what is (and could) be done to improve relations between the two countries. It will also look at people-to-people interaction and new fields of cooperation in the civil society and the education sectors. Beyond the use of secondary sources about India-China relations, two Indian scholars of China where interviewed for this paper. They stand for two generations of the post-1962 era, illustrating gradual changes in India's perception of China. The aim of this essay is to look beyond the general debate about India’s relationship with China and show what kinds of cooperation already exist and how persistent they are. I also want to emphasize another important factor of Sino-Indian relations: the level of trust. There are many fields where India and China are cooperating, but there is not much progress especially in bilateral matters, as can be observed when looking at the way how both sides are handling the border issue. I argue that trust is an important variable for sustainable cooperation, and that trust, or rather the lack of it, is a determining factor in Indo-Chinese cooperation. From “Hindi-Chini bhai, bhai” to “Hindi-Chini bye, bye” In the middle of the 20th century the new independent nation states Republic of India and the People's Republic of China (PRC) were founded. Both countries, but especially Nehruvian India, felt that they were vanguards of the anti-colonial movement. India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru saw China as a natural ally, close to India, as both nation states had just fought off imperialism. The phrase “Hindi-Chini bhai, bhai!” (“India and China are brothers”) was coined during this era, in the light of the 1954 Panchsheel Agreement with the PRC. While parts of the Indian public celebrated Chinese-Indian friendship, the Chinese public did not share the same excitement; it was probably not even aware of the Indian enthusiasm after Independence. After founding the PRC, the Communist Party of China (CPC) under Chairman Mao Zedong was busy to establish their one party rule. After winning the war against the Japanese and the Chinese Nationalist Party (Guomindang) the CPC's policies were predominantly inward looking. Mao Zedong tried to consolidate his power and his vision of communism in China, employing large political campaigns. The „Hundred Flowers“ and „Anti Rightist“ Campaigns of the 1950s were only the forerunners of the „Cultural Revolution“ that started in the mid-1960s and ended only with the fall of the „Gang of Four“ in 1976. Throughout this period, even while China supported a number of anti-colonial struggles in Asia and Africa and even ran into a border conflict with the “big socialist brother”, the...
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