India And China Encircling Each Other

Leaders of India and China

India and China have engaged in strengthening geopolitical ties with other nations in a potential move of forming alliances to encircle each other’s territories.

Crux of the Matter

India’s Ties To Encircle China

  • India and Bangladesh agreed on the construction of a railway line to connect Agartala in Tripura with Akhaura in Bangladesh by 2021 – all the costs would be borne by the Indian government.
  • The two countries also agreed on a deal for waterways to connect Tripura with Daudkandi through the Gomti river from August 2020.
  • In 2017, India provided Bangladesh a credit of $4.5 billion for its 17 key projects.
  • In 2018-19, more than 12 deals were confirmed between the two.


  • 2014: Japan was among the foremost countries visited by PM Modi after winning LS elections.
  • 2015: Both countries agreed on a bullet train project in India using Japanese technology. $12 billion credit would be provided by Japan, with negligible interest rates for repayment.
  • 2016: Both sides agreed on a deal that enables Japan to provide nuclear development facilities to India.
  • 2019: Japan invested ₹13,000 crores in development projects in Northeast India
  • Japan and China have had strained relationships since World War II.
  • In 2020, Japan announced $2.2 billion in aid to companies moving out of China.


  • Bhutan is a protected state of India.
  • In June 2014, the first foreign state visit of PM Modi was to Bhutan.
  • 2017: Both sides agreed to establish free trade between them.
  • 2019: India increased its monthly supply of LPG to Bhutan from 700 Metric Tonnes(MT) to 1,000 MT.


  • Australia reportedly offered India military aid after 1962 Indo-China war.
  • 2016: Agreement was signed to allow uranium exports from Australia to India.
  • June 2020: Both sides agreed to allow each other the access of their military bases.
  • Australia recently called for independent investigation into the origin of Coronavirus, putting China in spotlight for its lack of transparency.
  • China retaliated by increasing tariffs on barley exports from Australia.

China Encircling India

  • China is the largest provider of arms to Pakistan.
  • In 1989, Pakistan supported Chinese govt in its Tiananmen Square Massacre.
  • 2019: China supported Pakistan on Kashmir issue.
  • 2020: Both sides agreed on a deal to build dam worth $5.8 billion in Gilgit-Baltistan lying in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), for which India expressed disapproval.


  • 2008: Nepalese monarchy fell with alleged aid from the Communist Party of China (CCP).
  • 2019: China to provide Nepal $500 million for development projects.
  • 2020: Several schools in Nepal make Mandarin mandatory.
  • Nepal blamed India for Covid-19 and claimed 3 Indian territories in its map allegedly at the behest of China.


  • 2015: China became the largest trade partner of Bangladesh.
  • 2018: Bangladesh received record amount of Foreign Direct Investment of $3.6 billion, with more than $1 billion coming from China.
  • China’s total investment in Bangladesh was $38 billion as of 2019. It is the largest sum provided to Bangladesh by any country.
  • China is the biggest arms provider to Bangladesh.

China-Sri Lanka

  • Sri Lanka is one of the major countries of the String of Pearls, which is a theory encompassing China’s hold on international ports.
  • 2007: China became the major weapon supplier to Sri Lanka which ended the civil war.
  • China provided loan worth $1.5 billion to Sri Lanka for building the Hambantota port.
  • 2017: China wrote off $1.1 billion loan to lease the port for 99 years.
  • 2020: US bans Lt Gen Shavendra Silva of Sri Lanka for civilian atrocities and alleged pro-China inclinations.
  • The String of Pearls is a geopolitical theory on potential Chinese intentions in the Indian Ocean region (IOR). In theory, a “pearl” refers to a current or potential Chinese overseas military base, mega infrastructure project, economic corridor, port or other city or locale of Chinese geostrategic advantage in the region. The eponymous “string” of these pearls refers to the possibility of the Chinese Navy connecting these pearls via maritime routes.
  • Mongolia is the world’s second-largest landlocked country behind Kazakhstan and the largest landlocked country that does not border a closed sea. In 2002, about 30% of all households in Mongolia lived from breeding livestock. (Mongolia)
  • The Silk Road was a network of trade routes that connected the East and West and was central to the economic, cultural, political, and religious interactions between these regions from the 2nd century BCE to the 18th century. The Silk Road trade played a significant role in the development of the civilizations of China, Korea, Japan, the Indian subcontinent, Iran, Europe, the Horn of Africa and Arabia.

Standoffs At LAC

Standoffs at LAC

After recent standoffs at the Indo-China LAC border, delegates have declared success in initiating peace talks. The incident comes at a time when several countries are tightly observing China for its role in Coronavirus spread as well as its dealings with other nations.

Crux of the Matter

Peace Talks
After recent standoffs at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) between India and China, both sides went into negotiation. In an official statement, the Indian government declared having a successful discussion that would seek to resolve the conflict with peaceful talks.

Both sides agreed to peacefully resolve the situation in the border areas in accordance with various bilateral agreements and keeping in view the agreement between the leaders that peace and tranquility in the India-China border regions is essential for the overall development of bilateral relations.

Ministry of External Affairs, India

What Happened?
Recent weeks saw an increase in standoffs between the 2 countries at the LAC. After a physical confrontation involving fistfight at Sikkim border, several fighter airplanes were spotted near the LAC in Ladakh after which India rushed its army and aircrafts to monitor the situation. Further tension occurred when India enhanced its infrastructure construction near the LAC which drew criticism from China.

Critics have labelled China’s actions as diversion from its actions regarding Coronavirus spread and its interference in Hong Kong and Taiwan.

History of LAC
Even the length of LAC is disputed between the 2 countries. India claims its length as 3,488 km while China claims it to be only 2,000 km long. While minor conflicts keep occurring in the eastern and middle part, the western part is a source of major conflict. After an informal agreement of LAC in 1962 after Sino-India war, agreements were reached in 1993 and 1996 for formal recognition. The blurring of LAC is most prominent in the western side, where the territorial claims overlap while a lack of clear demarcation fuels the conflicts.

Cutting The Lake
The case of the Pangong lake is interesting for the borders as the claimed LAC passes through it. It is divided into 8 areas, called fingers. While India claims that the border passes through finger 8 and patrols till the 4th, China claims the passing of LAC through finger 2 and patrols till the 4th; occasionally it ventures into the 2nd. Recent physical battles occurred in fingers 2 and 5.

Source: India Today

History of LAC Standoffs

  • 2013: 3 week standoff as China built camps in Daulat Beg Oldi inside the Indian border
  • 2014: Standoff as India attempted to build canal in Demchok
  • 2015: Standoff as Indian troops dismantled Chinese watchtower inside the Indian LAC
  • 2017: Doklam standoff for more than 2 months
  • 2020: Unarmed fight at Sikkim border and increased aircraft patrolling at Ladakh LAC

  • A Mexican standoff is a confrontation in which no strategy exists that allows any party to achieve victory. Any party initiating aggression might trigger their own demise. At the same time, the parties are unable to extricate themselves from the situation without suffering a loss. The term Mexican standoff was originally used in the context of using firearms and today still commonly implies a situation in which the parties face some form of threat from the other parties. The term is made popular due to usage of it in Movies and Video games.
  • Pangong Lake is an endorheic lake in the Himalayas situated at a height of about 4,350m. It is 134km long and extends from India to the Tibetan Autonomous Region, China. Approximately 60% of the length of the lake lies within the Tibetan Autonomous Region. The lake is in the process of being identified under the Ramsar Convention as a wetland of international importance. This will be the first trans-boundary wetland in South Asia under the convention.
  • A bargaining impasse occurs when the two sides negotiating an agreement are unable to reach an agreement and become deadlocked. Some theorists contend that impasses are used by negotiating parties in situations of imperfect information as a method of signaling to the other side the seriousness of their position. An impasse is a type of standoff.

India’s Infra Development On LAC Spooks China

As India maintained its stance on infrastructure development on the Line of Actual Control (LAC), China displayed aggressive reaction which is a culmination of stand-off continuing since several weeks.

Crux of the Matter

India Ramps Up Development
India and China have been engaged in a stand-off for several weeks. However, India has maintained a strong stance of keeping the Army established near the borders and has continued its development project along the borders. Indian Army has maintained emphasis on “peaceful talks” but has rejected the possibility of revising the plans of construction on the Indian side of LAC.

The project is a part of the plan of the Indian government to develop strong infrastructure on its borders to facilitate rapid action in case of invasion/intrusion.

China To Prepare For War?
On Tuesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping ordered his army to prepare for “worst-case scenarios”. Without taking India’s name directly, Jinping directed his army to prepare for situations where they may be forced to defend “national sovereignty”.

All Indian activities are entirely on the Indian side of the LAC. In fact, it is the Chinese side that has recently undertaken activity hindering India’s normal patrolling patterns. The Indian side has always taken a very responsible approach towards border management.

Ministry Of External Affairs, India

China In World Spotlight

Consequently, several analysts have pointed to China’s actions on Indian border as attempts to divert attention from its role in Coronavirus spread as well as hostilities in Taiwan and Hong Kong.

  • The McMahon Line is the demarcation line between the Tibetan region of China and the North-east region of India proposed by British colonial administrator Henry McMahon at the 1914 Simla Convention signed between British and Tibetan representatives. It is currently an effective boundary between China and India.
  • Chinese scholars claim that the Chinese Prime Minister Zhou Enlai first used the phrase ‘Line of Actual Control’ in a letter addressed to Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru dated 24 October 1959.
  • The slogan of “Hindi Chini Bhai Bhai” was used to declare brotherhood between India and the People’s Republic of China between 1954—1962, under the “Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence” or called the “Pancha Shila” agreement.

Resurgence Of Indo-China Border Tension

Indo-China stand-off

Indo-China border saw multiple acts of stand-off within a span of a day across Sikkim and Eastern Ladakh. Both countries have downplayed the incidents as usual with no imminent threats.

Crux of the Matter

Scuffle in Sikkim
The first aggression occurred in Naku La, in the north-eastern Sikkim. Around 150 soldiers took part in the fight, which involved stone-pelting and fist-fighting. Soldiers from both sides incurred minor injuries. Both countries have played down the act, marking it as an accident due to a lack of clear demarcation of the boundaries.

Ladakh Next
A similar incident occurred after the Sikkim stand-off, this time in Eastern Ladakh. Chinese choppers were spotted near the Line of Actual Control (LAC). Indian Air Force fighter planes reached the spot immediately to monitor the border’s condition. Some claimed that the Chinese choppers did not cross the border and that Indian fighter planes arrived only to inspect the condition without any intent of action.

Previous Stand-offs

  • In 2013, Chinese troops set up tents inside the Indian border in Eastern Ladakh. A face-off ensued, which was defused soon.
  • In 2014, Chinese soldiers and villagers stopped Indian workers creating a canal at the LAC in Demchok.
  • In 2017, disputed territory Doklam saw a 73 day long stand-off due to Chinese attempt of constructing a road. The stand-off was ended by both countries with a mutual agreement.

Indo-China history: A Timeline

Ancient timeEarly trade between two countries by silk route
1950India among the first countries to recognize People’s Republic of China (PRC)
1954India and China sign Panchsheel Agreement to foster mutual relationships
1958China illegaly occupies Aksai Chin, a disputed land
1959Dalai Lama takes refuge in India after escaping from Tibet, now occupied by China
1962Indo-China war occurs, with China initiating war to due to India’s support for Tibet as well as its plan to integrate Arunachal Pradesh in China
1967Military clash occurs in Nathu La, Sikkim
1987Military clash takes place in Arunachal Pradesh

  • Aksai Chin is a part of the Indian Union Territory of Ladakh. It is also claimed by China as part of Xinjiang and Tibet. The etymology of both the words Aksai and Chin is disputed. Some sources state the meaning of Aksai as a “white stone desert” while some as “white brook”. And for the word Chin, while the majority of the sources cite it as China while sources say that the word means “pass”.
  • Sikkim became a princely state of British India in 1890. After 1947, Sikkim continued its protectorate status with the Republic of India. It enjoyed the highest literacy rate and per capita income among Himalayan states. In 1973, anti-royalist riots took place in front of the Chogyal’s palace. In 1975, the monarchy was deposed by the people. A referendum in 1975 led to Sikkim joining India as its 22nd state.
  • The Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, known as the Panchsheel Treaty: Non-interference in others internal affairs and respect for each other’s territorial unity integrity and sovereignty, are a set of principles to govern relations between India and China. The 29 April 1954 agreement mentioned above was set to last for eight years. When it lapsed, relations were already souring, the provision for renewal of the agreement was not taken up, and the Sino-Indian war broke out between the two sides.