The Evolution of the Sino-Indian Rivalry

Authored by: Manjeet S. Pardesi

Routledge Handbook of the International Relations of South Asia

Print publication date:  October  2022
Online publication date:  October  2022

Print ISBN: 9781032159881
eBook ISBN: 9781003246626
Adobe ISBN:


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China and India have been locked in a strategic rivalry since the late 1940s. Their rivalry involves two contentious issues: a positional dimension related to Asian strategic affairs and a spatial/territorial dimension given the disputed nature of their frontier. At the same time, the Sino-Indian rivalry is asymmetric. China accords India a lower priority compared to China's other rivals (including the United States, the Soviet Union, and Japan over the decades), and does not perceive India as a peer. By contrast, India perceives China as its most consequential rival (ranked above Pakistan) and seeks some notion of equality with it. While the Sino-Indian rivalry has escalated and de-escalated over the decades—four phases are identified in this chapter—it has become more complex in recent years. The Sino-Indian rivalry is now entangled with their other rivalries, especially the US-China and India-Pakistan rivalries. Sino-Indian relations may become more fraught as the material power asymmetry between them widens in China's favor.

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