Focusing on India’s Look East Policy: India–China relationship from 1947 to 2020

Journal article

Roy, Kaushik (2021) Focusing on India’s Look East Policy: India–China relationship from 1947 to 2020, International Area Studies Review 24 (2): 79–96.

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Before the onset of the industrial revolution, China and India were the two biggest powers in Eurasia. Their total population comprised almost half of the world’s population. And the GNP of premodern China was half of the combined GNP of the world. Before circa 1600 CE, most of the textiles and iron in the world were manufactured in these two countries. China and India suffered a temporary eclipse during the age of colonialism. However, with the rise of the economic and military power of China and India from the late 20th century, it seems that these two countries are bound to reclaim their traditional positions as big powers in the international system. However, there is a caveat. In the premodern era, the Himalayas prevented any intimate contact between the ‘dragon’ and the ‘elephant’. But, from the mid-20th century, advances in technology, economic competition and the annexation of Tibet by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) among other factors resulted in China and India coming into direct contact with each other. The result has been cooperation–competition–conflict. And this has had consequences not only for these two countries but for the whole world. The present article attempts to trace the troubled trajectory of India’s China policy from the late 1940s (when these two countries became independent) up to the present day.

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