Political Relations Political Relations

Political Relations

India-China Political Relations

            On 1 April, 1950, India became the first non-socialist bloc country to establish diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China. Prime Minister Nehru visited China in October 1954. Though the border conflict in 1962 was a setback to ties, Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s landmark visit in 1988 marked the beginning of improvement in bilateral relations. In 1993, the signing of an Agreement on the Maintenance of Peace and Tranquility along the Line of Actual Control on the India-China Border Areas during Prime Minister Narasimha Rao’s visit reflected the growing stability in bilateral ties. Bilateral relations have been impacted by the continuing situation in the India-China border areas along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh since April-May 2020.

Visits of Heads of State/Heads of Government

  1. The cumulative outcomes of various bilateral high-level visits have added value and substance to the relationship. During Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s visit in 2003, India and China signed the Declaration on Principles for Relations and Comprehensive Cooperation and also mutually decided to appoint Special Representatives (SRs) to explore the framework of a boundary settlement. During the April 2005 visit of Premier Wen Jiabao, the two sides established a Strategic and Cooperative Partnership for Peace and Prosperity.
  1. India-China bilateral relations expanded and became diversified in the past decade. During the visit of President Xi Jinping to India in September 2014, the two sides redefined the bilateral engagement as Closer Developmental Partnership. In addition, a total of 16 agreements were signed in various sectors including, commerce & trade, railways, space- cooperation, pharmaceuticals, establishment of industrial parks, and sister-city arrangements. The two sides also signed a MoU to open the Nathu La route for Kailash Mansarovar Yatra.
  1. Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited China in May 2015and held meetings with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang. During the visit, Prime Minister Modi and Premier Li Keqiang also addressed the opening session of the First State/Provincial Leaders’ Forum in Beijing. 24 agreements were signed on the government-to-government side, 26 MoUs on the business-to-business side and two joint statements, including one on climate change. Prime Minister also announced e-visa facility for Chinese tourists.
  1. President Pranab Mukherjee made a state visit to China in May 2016. He visited Guangdong and Beijing where he met with the Chinese leadership, and during the visit ten MoUs in the field of education and research were concluded.
  1. In April 2018 Prime Minister Modi and President Xi held the first Informal Summit in Wuhan to exchange views on overarching issues of bilateral and global importance and elaborated upon their respective visions and priorities for national development. The two leaders agreed to significantly enhance efforts to build on the convergences through the established mechanisms in order to create the broadest possible platform for the relationship. The dialogue helped in forging a common understanding of the future direction of India-China relations built upon mutual respect for each other's developmental aspirations and prudent management of differences with mutual sensitivity.
  1. The Second Informal Summit between Prime Minister Modi and President Xi was held in Chennai on 11-12 October 2019. The  Summit evaluated the direction of the bilateral relationship in a positive light and discussed ways to further deepen India-China bilateral interaction to reflect the growing role of both countries on the global stage. The Summit recognized that India and China were factors for stability in the current international landscape and that both sides should properly manage their differences and not allow them to become disputes.
  1. The two leaders also visited each other’s countries to attend various multilateral summits. Prime Minister Modi visited China in September 2016 to participate in the G20 Summit in Hangzhou, in September 2017 to participate in the BRICS Summit in Xiamen, and in June 2018 to attend the SCO Summit in Qingdao. President Xi visited India in October 2016 to participate in the BRICS Summit in Goa. The two leaders have also met on the sidelines of various multilateral summits in other countries.

Other high level visits and mechanisms

  1. India and China have several dialogue mechanisms at various levels, covering bilateral political, economic, cultural, people-to-people, consular matters as well as dialogues on regional and global issues.
  1. The Foreign Ministers meet regularly, including on the sidelines of multilateral events. EAM Dr. S. Jaishankar paid an official visit to China from 11 to 13 August 2019, during which he held a bilateral meeting and co-chaired the 2nd meeting of the India-China High-level Mechanism (HLM) on Cultural and People-to-People Exchanges with ChineseForeign Minister Mr. Wang Yi in Beijing. Five MOUs on cooperation in the fields of sports, culture, museums and traditional medicine, as well as on exchanges between the two Foreign Ministries were signed during the visit. During the visit, EAM also met with the Vice President of China Mr. Wang Qishan.  Both Foreign Ministers also met on the sidelines of the SCO Foreign Ministers’ Meetings in Moscow on 10 September 2020 and in Dushanbe on 14 July 2021. Defence Ministers of both countries also met on the sidelines of the SCO Defence Ministers’ Meeting in Moscow on 04 September 2020.
  1. Following the establishment of the mechanism of Special Representatives (SR) on the India-China Boundary Question in 2003, 22 rounds of talks have been held. The 22nd round of talks between Mr. Ajit Doval, National Security Advisor and Mr. Wang Yi, Foreign Minister was held in New Delhion 21 December 2019. An Agreement on the Establishment of a Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC) was signed during the 15th Round of SR talks in New Delhi in January 2012. The WMCC has held 22 meetings, with the latest one held on 25 June 2021. The WMCC and the Senior Commanders’ Meeting (SCM) mechanism have been engaged since June 2020 for disengagement in the border areas along the LAC in Eastern Ladakh. This process has led to successful disengagement at several friction points. Diplomatic and military discussions to achieve complete disengagement in all friction areas remain ongoing.
  1. Furthering interaction between scholars, academicians, experts and strategic thinkers on both sides, the 4th India-China Think Tank Forum was held from 28-29 November 2019. A 15-member delegation led by Director General of the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) Ambassador T.C.A. Raghavan visited China to participate in the forum, which was co-organized by ICWA and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS). The 6th ICWA - Chinese People’s Institute of Foreign Affairs (CPIFA) Dialogue was also held from 06 to 07 November 2019 in New Delhi.

Cooperation in Water Resources

  1. Both India and China have maintained regular exchanges on cooperation in water resources. From 12-13 June 2019, the 12th meeting of the India-China Expert Level Mechanism (ELM) on Trans-border Rivers took place in Ahmedabad. During the meeting, in pursuance to the MoU for provision of hydrological information of the Brahmaputra River, both sides signed the “Implementation plan on the provision of hydrological information of Yaluzangbu/Brahmaputra River in flood season”. A similar MoU exists for provision of hydrological information on the Sutlej River .

Cultural and People-to-People Exchange

  1. The Kailash Manasarovar Yatra is organised by the Ministry of External Affairs, in co-operation with state governments and other agencies, during June to September, every year. In 2019, a total of 18 batches comprising of 1005 Yatris through Lipulekh Pass and 10 batches comprising of 341 Yatris through Nathu-La Pass undertook the Yatra. The Yatra has remained suspended for the last two seasons on account of the COVID-19 outbreak and the severe travel restrictions imposed since then by China.

Other Issues

  1. Following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in China in early 2020, Indian students, who constitute a large part of the Indian community in China, had left for India. They have since not been able to return to China due to the restrictive entry measures in the country. This issue continues to be raised with the Chinese side.

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Updated: 13 August 2021