Professor Lanxin Xiang debates tensions between emerging powers with former Indian General.
R. C. Chopra, L. Xiang, and G.P. Herd, moderator.
The relationship between China and India is becoming increasingly important to the international community as they emerge as global centres of power. In addition to being the world’s two most populous countries, both have enjoyed extraordinary economic growth in recent times and are using their influence to play a stronger role in global diplomacy.
Speaking at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy yesterday, Professor of International History Lanxin Xiang participated in a Public Discussion entitled “India-China Relations in an Era of Power-Shifts and Interdependence” with key-note speaker former Major General Ramesh Chopra who was also the Indian Army's Chief of Intelligence and has held prominent roles in diplomacy, consulting and business.
Below is a selection of the issues the speakers discussed:
Speaking after Major General Chopra, Professor Xiang offered his analysis of the current relations between the two countries. While Major General Chopra said relations were overshadowed by an unsolved Himalayan border dispute, a factor in the Sino-Indian war of 1962, as well as China’s perceived closeness to Pakistan, Professor Xiang said “The international community has a divided view on India-China relations. They do not know whether to consider them as rivals or partners. The Chinese prefer to downplay the rivalry while India stresses it, especially from a defence point of view”.
South China Sea
Other challenges discussed by both panellists were the South China Sea and Nuclear Weapons. On the South China Sea, Major General Chopra said that he perceives China’s growing presence in the ports called the “string of pearls” by the Pentagon (Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh etc.) as worrying for India. Professor Xiang said that the only reason India has to get involved in the South China Sea is to gain favour with the United States.
Professor Xiang and Major General Chopra agreed that the elites on either side do not believe there will be a war between the two countries. On nuclear weapons, Major General Chopra said that India would like to see China not make any exceptions when it comes to no first use of the bombs. Professor Xiang said that any exceptions to no first use would apply to possible conflict with the United States over the Taiwan Strait.
Both General Chopra and Professor Xiang said that trade between the two countries is healthy and growing. “The countries’ trade relationships mitigate their problems,” Major General Chopra said. According to Lanxin Xiang, economic relations between the two countries are good and it would even be in China’s interest to narrow the trade deficit that is currently in its favour.
In closing Professor Xiang said that the two countries have in common a vision of a multi-polar world and a desire to change the current rules of the international system.
Faculty member since 1996, Professor Lanxin Xiang was previously Associate Professor at Clemson University in the United States. He held the Kissinger Chair of Foreign Policy and International Relations at the Library of Congress. His main publications include: "Tradition and Chinese Foreign Relations", "The Origins of the Boxer War" (2003, Chinese version nominated for national book awards), "Recasting the Imperial Far East" (2005), and "Mao’s Generals" (1998).
Read Professor Xiang’s latest editorial in the South China Morning Post entitled “The Great Divide”.
Listen to the Institute’s Podcast episode when Professor Xiang discusses China-Us Relations.
In 2013, The Geneva Centre for Security Policy will move into the Graduate Institute’s newly built “Maison de la paix".