China-India Relations

Two nuclear-powered neighbours
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Background explainers, news and analysis on relations between China and India, the second and seventh largest economies in the world, covering trade, military, border issues and tensions between Beijing and New Delhi.

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The term ‘cotton-picking’ originated in the US in the 1700s, evolved in the 1940s into an adjective denoting disapproval, and now carries racist connotations in reference to African slaves on cotton plantations.
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Bangladesh relies on India’s backing in tackling terrorism and economic issues, while Bangladesh is key to Modi’s vision of economic connectivity. But long-standing water disputes and Bangladesh’s warming relations with China may become areas of concern.
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Neither side is likely to make territorial concessions at their shared border, but Beijing and New Delhi have been here before, and 1987 and 2017 offer clues.
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A more collective US approach to dealing with China will force India and Russia to rebalance power relations, especially in a post-pandemic world requiring greater cooperation. India will increasingly be caught between the tug and pull, as closer ties with US fray relations with Russia.
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As India watches the Chinese economy pulls farther ahead of its own, it must realise a growth model built on a one-party system is a poor fit for India’s diverse democracy. Policies formulated in the comfort of government offices cannot be pushed through with brute force.
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India’s challenge will be to keep Biden committed to the Indo-Pacific, which means it must make itself more relevant to the US and its allies. Delhi should consider a more proactive policy in the South China Sea and vocally oppose Chinese militarisation.
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Instead of being an altruistic leader providing badly needed assistance during the pandemic, China’s bullying and coercion have damaged its global standing. America’s post-war dominance was built on the success of its plan to help Europe and Japan rebuild, behaviour that should be an example to China.
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Not only was the signing of the US-India defence pact important, the visit by America’s top two national security officials came just a week before the presidential election, signalling a longer-term shift in US policy.
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Beyond the Quad’s US, Japan, India and Australia, there are few truly free and democratic countries in Asia. Many in the region are also reluctant to jeopardise ties with China, especially given its vaccine diplomacy amid a global pandemic.
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India is using cautious rhetoric in the hope of easing tensions with China and maintaining the East-West balancing act. However, public outrage over a number of issues, including Indian soldiers dying in Ladakh, is complicating diplomacy.
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News Australia will join India, US and Japan in Malabar naval exercises will only heighten Beijing’s fears of an Indo-Pacific Quad.
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The economic disruption triggered by the coronavirus has forced India’s prime minister to unveil a series of economic reforms, which, following Chinese moves in Ladakh, include active economic decoupling from China and closer ties with the US.
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