India and its Neighbours: China, Pakistan, and Srilanka.

In the previous chapter you have learnt that the major objective of India's policy has been the promotion of international peace and cooperation and developing friendly relations with all countries, especially the neighbouring countries. Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, SriLanka, Bhutan, Burma and China are India's immediate neighbours with whom it has friendly relations based on bonds of common culture and heritage.

In this lesson we will study about India's relations with Pakistan, China and Sri Lanka.


India and China are the two great giants of Asia. Besides being the most populous countries, they are also two of the most ancient civilisations of the world. Historically, several historians have successfully traced the cultural linkages dating back to 2nd century BC.

India and China

As a result of the communist revolution in 1949, China became the People's Republic of China (PRC), under the leadership of Mao Tse Tung. Nehru regarded India as China's rival for the leadership of the non-white people of the world. India, on the other hand, tried its best to come close to China.

It was the first non-communist country to recognise communist China in 1949. India fully supported China's claim for membership in the United Nations. It also acknowledged China's claim over Formosa (Taiwan). It refused to be a party to peace treaty with Japan without China. In the Korean crisis too, India refused to brand China as aggressor when China intervened on behalf of North Korea. In fact, India supported China even though the Western bloc especially USA was displeased with it.

Nehru's China policy received the first jolt in 1950, when China occupied Tibet in 1950. It is important to remember in this context that India had long term interests in Tibet because it was a buffer lying between India and China. India even enjoyed certain special privileges in Tibet. Therefore direct Chinese control over Tibet was to endanger these, and India's security.

India's suggestions for a peaceful settlement of the Tibet problem were treated as interference by the communist regime. Gradually the Tibetans grew restless under China's yoke and rose in revolt in 1959. China ruthlessly suppressed the movement and declared Tibet as an integral part of China.

The head of Tibet, the Dalai Lama fled and took shelter in India while Tibet lost whatever autonomy it still enjoyed. The granting of political shelter to Dalai Lama by India added to China's distrust.

China appreciated India's neutral and mediatory role in easing the Korean problem (1950-53). Thus, began a period of friendship between the two countries, with the signing of the Sino-Indian Treaty of friendship in 1954. This treaty put a seal of approval upon Chinese suzerainty over Tibet.

The Preamble of the treaty embodies the famous 'Panchsheel Principles' about which you have studied. This agreement initiated a period of relaxed relationship, marked by the slogan of Hindi Chini Bhai Bhai. It is interesting to note that at the Bandung Conference (1955), Nehru actively brought China into the hold of the Afro-Asian solidarity.