India-China Competition: Perspectives from the Neighbourhood

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On 15 June 2020, Chinese troops, estimated to be more than 250, attacked a group of 50 Indian soldiers who were inspecting the progress of the Chinese withdrawal from the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Galwan Valley. The encounter ended in the deaths of 20 Indian soldiers and an undeclared number of Chinese troops, and led to a prolonged standoff between the two sides along the LAC.

India and China have often competed for strategic dominance in the international and regional order, and continue to be embroiled in border disputes. Yet, despite their differences, the two have also cooperated in bilateral, regional, and multi-nation forums in the past. It was in this spirit that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had worked to foster bonhomie with China by meeting President Xi Jinping in Ahmedabad, Wuhan, and Mamallapuram, at different times over 2014, 2018, and 2019. The Galwan clashes, however, sent shockwaves across India, underlining China’s expansionist intentions. India has since then moved closer to the QUAD and focused on military modernisation. Indeed, the rivalry between India and China has intensified, and the struggle for power and status has taken new precedence. With the new Cold War lines solidifying and the Indo-Pacific region becoming a pivot of geopolitical churning—the role of South Asia has become more strategic. [Read full paper from here]