Webcast: 'The Relations Between China and India Have Seen a Stabilization, but No Resolution'
A Conversation With Samir Saran and Tanvi Madan
How has India’s relation to China changed under Narendra Modi and Xi Jinping? In what areas do China and India work together? Where do the two countries diverge and what does that mean for the development in Asia? And what role does India want to play in Asia? Samir Saran, President of the Indian think tank Observer Research Foundation (ORF) and Tanvi Madan, Director of The India Project at the Brookings Institution, joined us to discuss these questions.
Our Key Takeaways
The India-China relationship has elements of cooperation and competition, but also of conflict. For India, China is a major strategic challenge. For China, India has become increasingly important in recent years. The Doklam standoff (2017) can be seen as a turning point after which the Chinese government took India more seriously.
Border disputes have been part of China and India’s relationship since the 1950s. Over the years the two countries developed mechanisms to manage and maintain a “hot peace”. Samir Saran emphasizes that there are other conflicts that we should pay more attention to: the risk of technological dependence from China and the question whether India can balance the U.S. and China.
The two experts agree that the relations between China and India have seen a stabilization, but no resolution. Nevertheless, the two countries have strong incentives for collaboration. India cannot become a $10 trillion economy unless it deepens its trade relationship with China. Beijing on the other hand is keen to increase collaboration in the fields of climate change and green economy – ensuring access to one of the biggest markets thereof.
Global governance used to be an area of shared interests – but it is decreasingly so. The world views of the two nations are fundamentally different with India aiming for a multipolar Asia and China steering towards a unipolar Asia.
Tanvi Madan notes that in recent years Europe has started to think about what China means for the world order and the coronavirus crisis might accelerate that process of rethinking relationships. She urges European governments to be more active when thinking about the region and to engage.
Samir Saran is the President of the Observer Research Foundation (ORF), one of Asia’s most influential think tanks. Working with the Board, he provides strategic direction and leadership to ORF’s multiple centers on fundraising, research projects, platform design and outreach initiatives including stakeholder engagement. He curates the Raisina Dialogue, India’s annual flagship platform on geopolitics and geo-economics, and chairs CyFy, India’s annual conference on cybersecurity and internet governance. He spearheads the foundation’s efforts to foster new international partnerships and globalize its platforms. Samir is also a Commissioner of The Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace, a member of the Regional Stewardship Board of the World Economic Forum, and a part of its Global Future Council on Geopolitics. In 2019, Samir Saran published the book Pax Sinica: Implications for the Indian Dawn together with Akhil Deo.
Tanvi Madan is a senior fellow in the Project on International Order and Strategy in the Foreign Policy program, and director of The India Project at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.. Madan’s work explores India’s role in the world and its foreign policy, focusing in particular on India's relations with China and the United States. She also researches the intersection between Indian energy policies and its foreign and security policies. Madan is the author of the book Fateful Triangle: How China Shaped US-India Relations during the Cold War (Brookings Institution Press, 2020). She is currently completing a monograph on India’s foreign policy diversification strategy, and researching her next book on the China-India-U.S. triangle.