China and India

The evolution of a compound rivalry

Authored by: Manjeet S. Pardesi

The Routledge Handbook of Asian Security Studies

Print publication date:  October  2017
Online publication date:  October  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138210295
eBook ISBN: 9781315455655
Adobe ISBN:


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China and India have been locked in an intense strategic rivalry since their emergence as modern states in the late 1940s. 1 The Sino–Indian rivalry is a “compound” strategic rivalry as there are at least two fundamental issues at stake here – a positional rivalry for leadership in Asia and a spatial rivalry over their disputed border territories in the Himalayas. 2 China and India are also in the early stages of a commercial rivalry for access to investments, markets, and resources to power their large and rapidly growing economies. 3 The possibility of an ideological rivalry as a result of their differing political systems in the future cannot be ruled out, especially if China and India continue on their path to rapid economic development. In spite of this complexity, China and India are locked in an asymmetrical rivalry. 4 While China remains India’s principal albeit long-term rival, India ranks lower on the list of China’s rivals after the United States and Japan. 5

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