China and India share a long history of cultural and economic exchanges dating back centuries. However, the border dispute between the two countries, particularly over the areas of Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh, has been a major source of tension. The border dispute between the two countries remains unresolved, with occasional flare-ups. The 1962 Sino-Indian War resulted in a great humiliation to India for its out-and-out defeat, leading to the Line of Actual Control (LAC) becoming the de facto border. Efforts to resolve the dispute through negotiations and confidence-building measures have been ongoing but remain in a state of flux.
China and India are members of several regional organizations, including the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), BRICS, and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). In the military field the two have had series of platoon level joint exercises on counter-terrorism. They have cooperated on certain issues, such as climate change and space, railways, commerce and trade etc, while maintaining divergent views on others. However, its outright support to Pakistan including military and economic cooperation, has been a point of concern for India. Additionally China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), in particular the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, which has been built through the disputed areas of Gilget-Baltistan which has violated India’s sovereignty and has raised opposition in India.
Both countries have had concerns about cybersecurity threats and have accused each other of engaging in cyber espionage. India has also raised concerns about China’s infrastructure projects in border areas, perceiving them as potentially affecting its security interests.
India and China’s strained relationship has been fuelled by recent Chinese provocations, including the allocation of names to places in Arunachal Pradesh, denial of visas to Indian media personnel, and President’s statements on preparing for war. These events have led to concerns about China’s intentions and the need for India to be prepared for any eventualities.
In this context, India’s defence preparedness has come under scrutiny, with the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence highlighting the need for urgent modernisation of the armed forces and raising its defence budget to three percent of the GDP.
High-level visits and diplomatic dialogues have been conducted between China and India to address bilateral issues and enhance understanding. However, disagreements on issues such as the border dispute, China’s stance on Pakistan, and India’s relations with other countries have at times strained diplomatic relations.
The two sides last held the Corps Commander level talks in December 2022 and after a considerable gap held the 18th Round on 23 May 2023, to discuss outstanding disputes along the LAC without any prospective results except to maintain peace andtranquillityon the borders.The India-China border row has entered its fourth year in May. Despite four rounds of disengagement from Galwan Valley , Pangong Tso, Gogra and Hot Springs, the Indian and Chinese armies still have more than 60,000 troops each and advanced weaponry deployed in the Ladakh theatre.The Indian and Chinese armies have held 18 rounds of talks so far, but problems at Depsang in Daulet Beg Oldi (DBO) sector and Charding Nullah Junction (CNJ) in Demchok sector are still on the negotiating table.
Foreign Minister S Jaishankar said that the relations between India and China were not normal and could not be normal as long as there was no peace and tranquillity in the disputed border areas between the two countries during a meeting of foreign ministers of the member nations of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Goa.Jaishankar had emphasised to his Chinese counterpart, State Councillor and Foreign Minister Qin Gang, the necessity of resolving the eastern Ladakh border dispute and maintaining peace and tranquillity along the LAC for the normalisation of bilateral relations between India and China.
The ability of India to thwart Chinese aggression depends on various factors, including diplomatic efforts, military capabilities, and regional dynamics.India has taken steps to enhance its defence capabilities and strengthen its military presence along the LAC with China. It has been actively modernising its armed forces, improving infrastructure in border regions, and enhancing its surveillance measures.Diplomatically, India has been engaging with regional and international partners to build alliances and strengthen its position. It has sought closer ties with countries like the United States, Japan, Australia, and Southeast Asian nations to counterbalance China’s influence in the region. Engaging in dialogues, negotiations, and multilateral forums can help India address concerns and find peaceful resolutions to any disputes.
However, it’s essential to recognise that China is a major global power with significant military capabilities. Any attempts to thwart Chinese aggression would require a careful balance between deterrence, diplomacy, and dialogue. Both countries have a mutual interest in maintaining stability and economic cooperation, and it is in their best interest to avoid a full-blown conflicts.
Here are some key factors that can influence India’s ability to deal with Chinese aggression – firstly, the military capabilities of India, including its armed forces, equipment, and technological advancements, play a crucial role in countering any aggression. A well-equipped and trained military can deter potential adversaries and effectively respond to any hostile action.China is about 2.9 times bigger than India. China’s military strength surpasses that of India, making it a more powerful nation in terms of military capabilities. However, Indian army soldiers are better fighters and better trained and better led than the troops of People’s Liberation Army (PLA); secondly robust economy enables a nation to invest in defence capabilities, infrastructure, and technological advancements, which in turn can enhance its deterrence and response mechanisms; thirdly advancements in technology, particularly in areas such as cybersecurity, space capabilities, and surveillance systems, can significantly contribute to a country’s ability to detect and counter potential threats; fourthly the level of international support and cooperation that India receives in countering Chinese aggression can have a significant impact.
Engaging in diplomatic efforts, forming alliances, and garnering support from like-minded nations can bolster India’s position.Though India is not a part of any major military alliance, it has a close strategic and military relationship with most of its fellow major powers. Countries considered India’s closest include the United Arab Emirates, Russian Federation, Israel, Afghanistan, France, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and the United States; fifthly India’s military doctrine and strategic planning, including its defence policies, deterrence strategies, and contingency plans, are essential in countering Chinese aggression; and sixthly effective intelligence gathering and information sharing mechanisms are vital in countering aggression. Timely and accurate information can assist in understanding China’s intentions, identifying potential threats, and formulating appropriate responses.