Last year marked the lowest point in the history of China-India relations since the 1962 border war. The death of 20 Indian and at least four Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers on June 15, 2020, was the inflection point in bilateral relations. It also fractured the border management framework that both sides had built since the early 1990s. But this was not a one-off incident as the two countries were involved in at least five major border stand-offs in the last decade: Depsang in 2013, Chumar and Demchok in 2014, Burtse in 2015, Doklam near the China-India-Bhutan tri-junction in 2017 and the ongoing stand-off at multiple points in eastern Ladakh. Scholars have attributed these stand-offs to the manifestation of change in China’s approach to foreign and security policies that took an assertive turn in 2008 from Deng Xiaoping’s model of “keeping a low profile” (tao guang yang hui) to a more active framework of “to strive for achievement” (fen fa you wei). Kanti Bajpai’s book, India Versus China: Why They Are Not Friends, attempts to dive deep into the subject and explain how these two countries got to be so fractious despite their periodic attempts at cooperation.
The article was originally published in Hindustan Times.