Political Relations Political Relations

Political Relations

Political Relations

India-China Political Relations

            On 1 April, 1950, India became the first non-socialist bloc country to establish diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China. Prime Minister Nehru visited China in October 1954. Though the border conflict in 1962 was a setback to ties, Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s landmark visit in 1988 marked the beginning of improvement in bilateral relations. In 1993, the signing of an Agreement on the Maintenance of Peace and Tranquility along the Line of Actual Control on the India-China Border Areas during Prime Minister Narasimha Rao’s visit reflected the growing stability in bilateral ties. This was followed by signing of the ‘Confidence-Building Measures in the Military Field along the Line of Actual Control in the India-China Border Areas’ in 1996.

  1. The cumulative outcomes of various bilateral high-level visits have added value and substance to bilateral ties. During Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s visit in 2003, India and China signed the Declaration on Principles for Relations and Comprehensive Cooperation and also mutually decided to appoint Special Representatives (SRs) to explore the framework of a boundary settlement. During the April 2005 visit of Premier Wen Jiabao, the two sides established a Strategic and Cooperative Partnership for Peace and Prosperity. The bilateral high-level visits continued with President Hu Jintao visiting India in 2006, followed by Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit in 2010. PM Dr. Manmohan Singh visited China in 2008 and 2013.

  2. India-China bilateral relations have expanded and become diversified in the past decade. During the visit of President Xi Jinping to India in September 2014, the two sides redefined the bilateral engagement as Closer Developmental Partnership. In addition, a total of 16 agreements were signed in various sectors including, commerce & trade, railways, space- cooperation, pharmaceuticals, establishment of industrial parks, and sister-city arrangements. The two sides also signed a MoU to open the Nathu La route for Kailash Mansarovar Yatra.

  3. Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited China in May 2015 and held meetings with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang. During the visit, Prime Minister Modi and Premier Li Keqiang also addressed the opening session of the First State/Provincial Leaders’ Forum in Beijing. 24 agreements were signed on the government-to-government side, 26 MoUs on the business-to- business side and two joint statements, including one on climate change.

  4. President Pranab Mukherjee made a state visit to China in May 2016. He visited Guangdong and Beijing where he met with the Chinese leadership. During the visit, ten MoUs in the field of education and research were concluded.

  5. In April 2018 Prime Minister Modi and President Xi held the first Informal Summit in Wuhan to exchange views on overarching issues of bilateral and global importance and elaborated upon their respective visions and priorities for national development. The two leaders agreed to significantly enhance efforts to build on the convergences through the established mechanisms in order to create the broadest possible platform for the relationship. The dialogue helped in forging a common understanding of the future direction of India-China relations built upon mutual respect for each other's developmental aspirations and prudent management of differences with mutual sensitivity.

  6. The Second Informal Summit between Prime Minister Modi and President Xi held in Chennai on 11-12 October 2019. The Summit discussed ways to further deepen India-China bilateral interaction. The Summit recognized that India and China were factors for stability in the current international landscape and that both sides should properly manage their differences and not allow them to become disputes.

  7. The two leaders also visited each other’s countries to attend various multilateral summits. Prime Minister Modi visited China to participate in the G20 Summit in Hangzhou (Sept 2016), BRICS Summit in Xiamen (Sept 2017) and SCO Summit in Qingdao (June 2018). President Xi visited India in October 2016 to participate in the BRICS Summit in Goa. Prime Minister Modi and President Xi met on the sidelines of the SCO Leaders’ Summit in Bishkek on 13 June 2019, which was their first meeting after the re-election of Prime Minister Modi. They also met on the sidelines of the 14th G-20 Summit in Osaka on 30 June 2019 and at the 11th BRICS Summit in Brasilia on 13 November 2019.
  8. Bilateral relations have been adversely impacted by the continuing situation because of the incidents along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh in April-May 2020.

Other high-level visits and mechanisms

  1. India and China have more than thirty dialogue mechanisms at various levels, covering bilateral political, economic, cultural, people-to- people, consular matters as well as dialogues on regional and global issues. Frequency of meetings of these mechanisms got impacted because of the current status of bilateral relations as well as strict travel restrictions imposed by the Chinese side on account of China’s COVID-19 policy.

  2. The Foreign Ministers have been meeting including on the sidelines of multilateral events. Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Delhi in the capacity of Special Envoy of the President in June 2014, when he called on PM Modi and had bilateral discussions with EAM. He also visited Goa and Delhi in August 2016, where he had separate meetings with Chief Minister and Governor of Goa, EAM and also called-on the Prime Minister. He also took part in the RIC Foreign Ministers Meeting in December 2017 in New Delhi. During this visit, Wang Yi had also called-on the Hon’ble President, and held bilateral meetings with EAM and NSA. Foreign Minister Wang Yi again visited India from 21-24 December 2018 to lead a multi-ministry delegation for the inaugural meeting of the High-Level Mechanism (HLM) on Cultural and People-to-People Exchanges, an important outcome of the Wuhan Summit. During the visit, he also had meetings with NSA and Maharastra Chief Minister, Devendra Fadnavis, and also called on President Ram Nath Kovind. On 25 March 2022, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited India and held meetings with EAM and NSA.

  3. EAM Smt. Sushma Swaraj visited Beijing in February 2015 for the Russia-India-China (RIC) Foreign Ministers’ meeting. In April 2018, EAM visited Beijing for the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers, when she also called on Vice President Wang Qishan, and in February 2019 she participated in the RIC Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Wuzhen. She also had bilateral meetings with Foreign Minister Wang Yi during these visits. EAM Dr. S. Jaishankar paid an official visit to China from 11 to 13 August 2019, during which he held a bilateral meeting and co-chaired the 2nd meeting of the India-China High-level Mechanism (HLM) on Cultural and People-to-People Exchanges with Chinese Foreign Minister Mr. Wang Yi in Beijing. Five MOUs on cooperation in the fields of sports, culture, museums and traditional medicine, as well as on exchanges between the two Foreign Ministries were signed during the visit. During the visit, EAM also met with the Vice President of China Mr. Wang Qishan. Recently, both Foreign Ministers met on the sidelines of the SCO Foreign Ministers’ Meetings in Moscow (10 September 2020), Dushanbe (14 July 2021 and 16 September 2021), and on the sidelines of G-20 in Bali (07 July 2022).

  4. Following establishment of the mechanism of Special Representatives (SR) on the India-China Boundary Question in 2003, 22 rounds of talks have been held. The 22nd round of talks between Mr. Ajit Doval, National Security Advisor and Mr. Wang Yi, Foreign Minister & State Councillor was held in New Delhi on 21 December 2019. An Agreement on the Establishment of a Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC) was signed during the 15th Round of SR talks in New Delhi in January 2012. Since June 2020, the two sides have been engaged in discussions through the WMCC and Senior Commander’s Meeting (SCM) for disengagement in the border areas along the LAC in Eastern Ladakh. The WMCC has held 25 meetings, with the latest one held on 14 October 2022. 17 rounds of Senior Commanders’ Meeting (SCM) mechanism have been held so far. This process has led to successful disengagement at several friction points. Diplomatic and military discussions to achieve complete disengagement in all friction areas are ongoing.

  5. The 1st reconstituted Strategic Dialogue between the then Foreign Secretary, Dr. S Jaishankar and the Chinese Executive Vice Foreign Minister Mr. Zhang Yesui was held in February 2017. Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale and Vice Foreign Minister Mr. Kong Xuanyou have met in Beijing in February 2018, in New Delhi in April and June 2018, and again in April 2019 in Beijing, as part of regular diplomatic consultations.

  6. India and China have also had exchanges in the field of defence. The then Raksha Mantri (RM) Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman paid a visit to Beijing in April 2018 for the SCO Defense Minister’s meeting. During the visit, she also held bilateral meeting with Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe. Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe paid an official visit to India in August 2018 and held discussions with the then RM. The two Defence Ministers also met on the sidelines of the SCO Defence Ministers Meeting in Moscow on 04 September 2020.

  7. The 9th India-China Annual Defence and Security Dialogue (ADSD) was held in Beijing on 13 November 2018. The dialogue was co-chaired by the Defence Secretary of India and the Deputy Chief of Joint Staff Department of Central Military Commission of China. Two Chinese naval ships participated in the International Fleet Review conducted at Visakhapatnam in February 2016. Two Indian naval ships, the INS Kolkata and the INS Shakti took part in the International Fleet Review in Qingdao, Shandong in April 2019, held as part of the 70th anniversary celebrations of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy. The 8th edition of India-China Joint Training Exercise (Hand-in-Hand 2019) was held from 06 to 20 December 2019 at Umroi in Meghalaya, wherein 130 soldiers from both sides jointly conducted Counter-Terrorism and Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief exercise. A delegation of the Indian Army, led by General Officer Commanding in Chief, Northern Command, Lt. Gen Ranbir Singh, visited China on an official engagement from 7-10 January 2020.

  8. India and China also have a High-Level Dialogue Mechanism on Counter Terrorism and Security, led by Chairman (JIC) on the Indian side and the Secretary General of the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission of the Chinese Communist Party on the Chinese side. The mechanism first met in Beijing in September 2016. Minister of Public Security, Mr. Zhao Kezhi also visited India in October 2018 and co-chaired the first India-China High Level Meeting on Bilateral Security Cooperation with Home Minister Shri Rajnath Singh. An MOU on cooperation in security and law enforcement was also signed.

  9. Furthering interaction between scholars, academicians, experts and strategic thinkers on both sides, the 4th India-China Think Tank Forum was held from 28-29 November 2019. A 15-member delegation led by Director General of the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) Ambassador T.C.A. Raghavan visited China to participate in the forum, which was co-organized by ICWA and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS). The 8th ICWA- Chinese People’s Institute of Foreign Affairs (CPIFA) Dialogue was also held on 16 November 2022 in virtual format.

  10. Both India and China have maintained regular exchanges on cooperation in the field of water resources. During the visit of the President of the People’s Republic of China to India in November 2006, it was agreed to set up an Expert-Level Mechanism to discuss interaction and cooperation on provision of flood season hydrological data, emergency management and other issues regarding trans-border Rivers as agreed between them. Accordingly, the two sides have set up the Joint Expert Level Mechanism through a Joint Declaration by both the countries. The ELM meetings are held alternately in India and China every year. Thirteen meetings of ELM have been held so far (twelve meetings held physically, alternatively in India and China). The 13th meeting of ELM was held on 18th May 2022 through virtual format.


Updated: 30 January 2023