Challenges for Sino-India Relations

Hu Juan  &  Zhang Yifan

As two populous countries globally, Sino-Indian relations play an important role not only in regional peace and stability, but also in the common development and prosperity of the whole world. Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 Pandemic at the end of 2019, the world situation has been greatly affected; the economy of India has also been greatly impacted. Facing the Pandemic, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a nationwide lockdown for 21 days from March 25, 2020. However, after the national –scale lockdown, the Pandemic situation has not been effectively alleviated. Furthermore, the Indian government had to announce the extension of national lockdown order until May 3, 2020. Since then, in order to minimize the negative effects done by the Corona Virus, Indian government extended the “city closure” measures many times. A large number of enterprises forced to stop their businesses, thus the unemployment rate has risen sharply, causing many industries such as construction, catering, retailing and automobile manufacturing to fall into difficult situations. Mihir Swarup Sharma, a senior researcher at the Observer Research Foundation of India, arguing that India’s GDP may experience negative growth for the first time in 40 years due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Under the influences of the Covid-19 Pandemic, India’s attitude towards China also fluctuated greatly.  In order to transfer domestic contradictions, some powers in India targeted

on China.  In May-June 2020, Chinese and Indian armed forces clashed at the border area of the Galwan valley, causing serious casualties. The Indian government allowed the nationalistic general public and crowds to retaliate against China’s economy. India’s Ministry of Railways and Ministry of Telecommunications said they would no longer consider cooperating with Chinese companies. Chinese products were unreasonably boycotted and even smashed. However, China has not taken the same level of retaliatory actions to against the irrational economic retaliation in India, showing that China attaches great importance to Sino-Indian relations and hopes that Sino-Indian relations can return to the right track as soon as possible.

It should be pointed out that the COVID-19 Pandemic has brought India’s mentality change

Towards China.  Some Indian scholars believe that China is rather an enemy. In fact, this view does not alleviate the harm caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic to India, but deepens the misunderstanding between the two countries. The elites of China and India should realize that the COVID-19 Pandemic is an enemy of mankind.  In the process of fighting against the COVID-19 Pandemic, China and India are not two sides in the zero-sum game, but partners in need of further cooperation. Only by abandoning differences and prejudices, working together to fight against the Pandemic can the bilateral relations of China and India get back on track earlier.

As big powers with great influences in Asia-Pacific area and around the world, China and India share extensive common interests.  So does the saying illustrate, “when dragon dances with the elephant, which brings mutual benefits, otherwise the mutual harms will come forth.”

Dealing with the sharp change of India’s attitude towards China, China should not forget to hand out an olive branch while strengthening the limits, expressing to India that friendly coexistence between the two countries is the right choice for bilateral relations, which is in line with the fundamental interests of the governments and people from both sides.

At present, in spite of Sino–India relations are facing great challenges; both countries still have good prospects for development. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi once pointed out in the ‘Xi-Modi meeting’ in October 2019: “The Chinese and Indian civilizations are ancient and profound, and their wisdom can provide enlightenment for solving various challenges faced by the world today. ” In the Indian culture based diplomatic concept of ‘Manthan’, only when China and India make concerted efforts to deal with the COVID-19 Pandemic and push the Sino-Indian relations back on track can they achieve long lasting mutual benefits, which is also beneficial for the well-being of the world.

Hu Juan, Scholar, Yunnan Academy of Social Sciences; Zhang Yifan, Scholar, Renmin University of China

About Arif Qureshi

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