By 2015 bilateral trade between them is going to cross the $100 billion mark. Yet, there is long list of political disputes between the two
There is, an oft quoted, popular axiom “history repeats itself…..”. This has often proved right in many disciplines of social science, but it has remained a challenging proposition in international politics because of consistent changes taking place in the structure of international system. Following this axiom many scholars from the West and East have analyzed the future trajectory of India-China relations. Hawkish foreign scholars and hyper nationalists from two countries- India and China- have maintained that the two rising powers will reengage in a war. Against them, there are liberals and, supposed to be, pacifists, who do not buy this argument. They are of the opinion that there will be “peaceful” rise of the two Asian giants.
The debate over the future trajectory of India-China relationship has been going on since the mid-1990s when both showed tremendous economic growth and development. After fifty years of Indo-Chinese war, questions about their future relationship have become much more relevant than what it was in the past. Also, for record and out of curiosity, questions like, why the war took place and can the present situation lead to repeat of 1962, have gained utmost significance.
Many theories [and some “conspiracy theories”] have been propounded about the reasons behind the 1962 India-China war and incidents related to that war. A few have blamed India for it; while for others China was the main culprit. Not trying to generate another theory or to fish in already muddied water, on the basis of facts I maintain that India–China war in 1962 owed to the then prevailing international structure. China’s centuries old ambition to lead Asia and setting up “Middle Kingdom” reemerged after consolidation of the Communist government in Beijing. Japan, Malaysia and Indonesia were seen as the challenge, but not as hurdle, whereas India was considered threat due to its political, military and economic situation. To pass the test of Asian leadership it was obvious for China to check India through political or military means. It opted for the later and succeeded in it. Chinese declaration of unilateral ceasefire without putting up any serious terms and conditions in November aptly prove that China’s only wanted to make India realize its power. Today also, as mentioned by V. P. Dutt in his book India’s Foreign Policy, even the staunchest critic of Mao’s policies, appreciates him for his military attack on India in 1962.
Also, it was the result of personality clash between the then Indian Prime Minister, Pandit Jawharlal Nehru, and Chairman of Communist Party of China (CPC), Mao-Tse-Tung. The two had expressed their differences during the Asian Relations Conference. At that time, though Mao-Tse-Tung was a respected leader of the communist bloc, Pandit Nehru under the visionary Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) had established himself as the most popular leader of the then newly decolonized countries. Mao’s decision for war was an effort to downgrade the charisma of Pandit Nehru, in which he was successful. Until now many questions are being raised on Nehruvian foreign policy.
Hong Yuan in his article “China Won, but never wanted Sino-India War”, published on 28th June 2012 in Global Time blames the “imperial” powers - USA and the former USSR - for creating situation for that war. This cannot be fully accepted. Yes, the two Cold War rivals helped ignite many wars around the globe to serve their own interests. But they were not responsible for India-China war. During that period both superpowers were busy with Cuban nuclear crisis and post-crisis detente. Despite a request from India, Soviet President Nikita Khrushchev said he could not help because ‘one is brother (China) another is a friend (India)’. The USA intervened, only at a later stage of war. It also served its own interest of “containment of communism”.
Hoping from past and contextualizing the repercussion of 1962, one finds that war still exists in the mind of Indians more than the Chinese. An obvious fear-psychosis is present due to Chinese activities and political moves on issues relating to India. Even the bilateral economic relationship has failed to erase suspicion and political perception about each other. As projected, by 2015 bilateral trade between them is going to cross the $100 billion mark. Yet, there is long list of political disputes between the two. For example on border demarcation; despite more than two decades of engagement they have failed to strike a deal.
To conclude, under the present circumstances and politically intriguing bilateral relationship; ambiguous questions like, are they going to “rise peacefully” or engage in another war, are obvious. Sandwiched between importance of politics or economy, India and China are all likely to move forward on a crisscrossed road, where economic necessity will compel them to cooperate; while unresolved political issues will keep the bilateral tensions alive. In foreseeable future, another war between them is not possible; though conflicts will remain stagnant.