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China and India are two of the major regional powers in Asia. They are the two most populous countries and among the fastest growing major economies in the world. Growth in diplomatic and economic influence has increased the significance of their bilateral relationship. The modern relationship between China and India began in 1950 when India was among the first countries to end formal ties with the Republic of China (Taiwan) and recognise the People's Republic of China as the government of Mainland China.

But recent events have caused a recalibration between the two super-powers. The most obvious evidence of that is the Line of Actual Control (LAC), which is a notional demarcation line that separates Indian-controlled territory from Chinese-controlled territory in the Sino-Indian border dispute. The issue is a massive one - the entire disputed Sino-Indian border including the western Line of Actual Control is 4,056 km long. In June of this year 20 Indian troops, including a commanding colonel, were killed in hand-to-hand combat between Indian and Chinese troops in Galwan Valley along the LAC. India and China have each now stationed tens of thousands of troops – backed by artillery, tanks and fighter jets – in the region since the June battle, despite several rounds of talks. Analysts say both sides are digging in for a long, hard winter showdown.

Following the Galwan Valley clash, there were renewed calls across India to boycott Chinese goods. On 29 June, the Indian government banned 59 widely-used Chinese mobile phone and desktop applications. On 19 August, Times of India reported that the ministry of external affairs of India has been told that visas for Chinese businessmen, academics, industry experts, and advocacy groups will need prior security clearance. That is a major change given China’s significant involvement in India’s technological and pharmaceutical companies. China can be expected to roll out reciprocal measures.

Additionally, India remains concerned about China's strong strategic bilateral relations with Pakistan, and China's funding of separatist groups in Northeast India, while China has expressed concerns about Indian military and economic activities in the disputed South China Sea.

India is now seeking closer security ties with other countries who are also wary of China’s growing military power. Some of the Indian government’s recent strategic decisions may be an indication of a wholesale policy change towards Beijing. For a long time, India tended to appease China by taking a  sensitive and cautious approach. Now India is considering stronger ties with the US. There was also a recent surprise announcement that India would expand its trilateral naval exercises with the United States and Japan to include Australia (the group of 4 nations known as the Quad). That action is unusual given Australia’s current highly confrontational relationship with China. It was also reported that India was holding high-level defence and diplomatic dialogue with the US.

Experts said “the winds of policy change might be blowing in New Delhi.”

(Sources: Wikipedia; South China Morning Post; ThePress)

Prayer Points

  • Pray for wisdom for both the Indian and Chinese leaderships in their handling of relationships with each other.
  • Pray for both of these great nations, India and China, to find a fruitful and productive role as superpowers, especially in the region.
  • Pray for the soldiers involved on both sides in the stand-off on the Line Of Actual Control, as they face very difficult conditions in the extreme cold of winter, that Christians amongst them might be able to bring their fellow soldiers to faith and hope in Jesus Christ.
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Published on October 22, 2020
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