Looking Beyond the Border: The Sino-Indian Border Dispute and Sino-Indian Relations

  • Yang Lu (Author)

Identifiers (Article)


As the two most populous nations and Asia’s two largest and most dynamic societies, China and India have become the world’s most important economies and their participation and influence in regional and world affairs has increased over time. However, the relationship between the two Asian giants has not been an easy one. The border dispute, a colonial legacy, has existed since the very beginning of the relationship between the two new nation-states, established at the end of the 1940s.The border issue is one of the most protracted and complicated problems between the two countries. It is like a mirror, reflecting the ebbs and flows of the relationship between India and China. It does not stand alone but is related to many other bilateral and international issues. Each time other events block the relationship, the border negotiations are also prevented from making any progress. Here the role of the border dispute between India and China is explored from a negotiation perspective, and within a constructivist framework, by emphasising ideational factors in the decision-making process. The author divides the Sino-Indian border dispute into two distinct stages, conflict escalation and conflict de-escalation, in order to achieve this goal. She also places a focus on border trade and on the newly built Qinghai-Tibet Railway which are both supposed to have played a significant role in enhancing people-to-people contact along the border. After exploring the ripeness of an ultimate settlement of the border dispute, the author concludes that there is no winner or loser from an historical and holistic perspective and that both parties have won and lost in different aspects. Now is the time to test the wisdom of the political leaders in finding a mutually acceptable solution. The crucial basis of a healthy relationship is the enhancement of mutual trust between the two countries, which could be promoted by institution-building at the bilateral and multilateral levels.


China, India, Border