With the rise of India and China, the concept of ‘Asian Century’ is imminent. And being prominent‘ players’ in the region, there are expectations that India and China will lead Asia into the Asian Century.
Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said the regional and international role of India and China was evolving. The two countries were already economic superpowers in the past, but we are now witnessing is their revival.
According to the Global Asia Journal in 1750, China and India accounted for almost 57 per cent of world manufacturing output, with India itself accounting for almost a quarter. But over the years, both nations suffered from long spells of domination by foreign powers. And this tore their body politic.
Historians and political scientists alike say China and India are two great civilizations that have existed side by side in relative peace, except for the 1962 short border war. However, cultural and religious ties cannot hide the fact that the two neighbours have had their fair share of differences, especially in the post-colonial period. Many regional watchers are of the view that India and China will end up as rivals. Now, the question is, will this rivalry lead to a confrontational conflict? Well, the 2017 Doklam standoff brought the region to its feet.
Regional expert and Assistant Professor of International Relations Dr Rupakjyoti Borah says as developing countries, China and India are both in the process of pulling millions of their citizens out of poverty. Borah said this requires adequate energy supplies.
“Trade between the two countries is also booming. In 1984, the two sides signed a Most Favored Nation Agreement and trade levels since have increased many times over with the figure touching $74 billion in 2011 from $2.92 billion in 2000. Both countries had set an ambitious trade target of $100 billion in trade by 2015.”
However, the border remains to be the most critical issue. Borah said Beijing questions the length of the border and disputes the ‘1914 McMahon Line’ that demarcates India and China. There is no doubt that territorial issues are difficult to resolve.
Another imminent problem is water because both countries share rivers and there is a noted absence of a treaty. “During the last few years, there have been reports of China building dams on the Yarlung River, which originates in Tibet before eventually flowing into Arunachal Pradesh,” said Borah. And Tibet is a prickly issue between China and India, like Kashmir, is for India and Pakistan. But India always maintained that Tibet is a part of China.
Yet, a recent policy document prepared by some of India’s leading strategists said “our Tibet policy needs to be reassessed and readjusted. Persuading China to seek reconciliation with the Dalai Lama and the exiled Tibetan community may contribute to easing India-China tensions.”
There have been other noted clashes for dominance between the two countries, most notedly in the South China Sea. Now China has taken to its One Belt One Road Initiative to spread its influence, while India takes to building ports with its allies.