China–India relations, also called Sino-Indian relations or Indo–Chinese relations, refers to the bilateral relationship between China and India. China and India had historically peaceful relations for thousands of years of recorded history. But the tone of the relationship has varied in modern time, especially after the rule of Communist Party in China; the two nations have sought economic cooperation with each other, while frequent border disputes and economic nationalism in both countries are a major point of contention. The modern relationship began in 1950 when India was among the first countries to end formal ties with the Republic of China (Taiwan) and recognize the People’s Republic of China as the legitimate government of Mainland China. China and India are two of the major regional powers in Asia, and are the two most populous countries and among the fastest growing major economies in the world. Growth in diplomatic and economic influence has increased the significance of their bilateral relationship.
Cultural and economic relations between China and India date back to ancient times. The Silk Road not only served as a major trade route between India and China, but is also credited for facilitating the spread of Buddhism from India to East Asia. During the 19th century, China was involved in a growing opium trade with the East India Company, which exported opium grown in India. During World War II, both British India and Republic of China played a crucial role in halting the progress of Imperial Japan.
Relations between contemporary China and India have been characterized by border disputes, resulting in three military conflicts – the Sino-Indian War of 1962, the Sino-Indian war of 1967, and the 1987 Sino-Indian skirmish. In early 2017, the two countries clashed at the Doklam plateau along the disputed Sino-Bhutanese border. However, since the late 1980s, both countries have successfully rebuilt diplomatic and economic ties. In 2008, China became India’s largest trading partner and the two countries have also extended their strategic and military relations.
Despite growing economic and strategic ties, there are a lot of hurdles for India and the PRC to overcome. India faces trade imbalance heavily in favor of China. The two countries failed to resolve their border dispute and Indian media outlets have repeatedly reported Chinese military incursions into Indian territory. Both countries have steadily established military infrastructure along border areas including amidst the 2020 China–India skirmishes. Additionally, India remains wary about China’s strong strategic bilateral relations with Pakistan, and China’s funding to the separatist groups in Northeast India, while China has expressed concerns about Indian military and economic activities in the disputed South China Sea.