Burying the hatchet

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India and China must put their differences aside and work together to overcome the financial crisis, argues Claudia Astarita of the University of Hong Kong’s Centre of Asian Studies

India was among the first countries to recognize the People’s Republic of China. It established diplomatic relations with the country on 1 April 1950. Yet for political and economic reasons, the China-India relationship has long been fraught with difficulties.

Problems stem from the Chinese “liberation” of Tibet in 1950, India’s granting of asylum to the Dalai Lama and a complex series of border disputes. In addition, growing ties between China and Pakistan and the increased influence of the US on China and India have given rise to mutual distrust.

Claudia Astarita
Claudia Astarita

New strains have been imposed by the global financial crisis, which is drastically slowing the growth rate of both nations, each of which relies heavily on economic growth to preserve political stability.

In recent years, the rise of both countries has captured the world’s imagination. Their economic emergence has been depicted as a seismic event, capable of altering the global economic, geopolitical, social and environmental landscape. There has even been speculation that India and China will emerge as natural business partners. High-level bilateral and multilateral meetings have sought to thaw the frosty relationship and dozens of memoranda of understanding have been signed.

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Claudia Astarita is an academic at the Centre of Asian Studies at the University of Hong Kong and an associate researcher at the French Centre for Research on Contemporary China. She has published several articles on Sino-India relations and economic integration.