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India and China

India-China: Historical Ties

Written records of contacts between India and China date back to at least 2nd century B.C. Such contacts at the level of people through commerce got a fillip with the advent of Buddhism into China from India in the first century A.D. under imperial patronage. A Chinese monk, Fa Xian (Fa-Hsien, AD 399-414), visited India in AD 402, stayed for 10 years, and after his return translated many Sanskrit, Buddhist texts into Chinese. His record of journeys Fo Guo Ji (Record of Buddhist Kingdoms) is an important historical source. Kumarajiva, a scholar in Vedas as well as Buddhist Sutras, was born of Chinese mother and Indian father. His translations of Sanskrit sutras into Chinese are valued even today. In the 5th Century AD Bodhidharma, a South Indian monk, became the first patriarch of the Shaolin Monastery in China. Xuan Zang (Hiuen Tsang) visited India during Harsha Vardhana's reign in the 7th Century AD, in search of Buddhist scriptures. His journey became part of traditional Chinese lore when narrated in a later period book called "A Journey to the West".

The decline of Buddhism in India and spread of colonialism in both the countries resulted in diminished cultural exchanges. However, when people of both the countries started searching for new answers to new questions, old friendship was revived. The respective national struggles for freedom saw resumption of contacts, mutual interest, and feelings of solidarity. Landmark events of this period are Kang Youwei's stay in India (1890s), Tagore's visit to China (1924), setting up of Cheena Bhawan in Viswabharati University by Professor Tan Yunshan under Tagore's guidance (1937), sending of the Aid China Medical Mission, which included Dr. Dwarakanath Kotnis, by the Indian National Congress (1938), and Xu Beihong's visit to Shantiniketan (1939-40).

The early fifties and the Hindi-Chini Bhai Bhai phase of 1950s witnessed a further strengthening of these ties. Indian films like Awaara, Caravan and Do Bigha Zameen as well as stars like Raj Kapoor and Nargis left a lasting impression on Chinese audiences. The resumption of political relations in 1980s has provided an impetus to cultural exchanges.



DUNHUANG: In Gansu province, an oasis town at the eastern edge of the Taklamakan desert. Was important along the ancient Silk Route and has many imprints of Buddhism from India, including the Thousand Buddha Cave and the Mogao Grottoes with impressive frescoes reminiscent of Ajanta, from 366 A.D till the 10th century.

XINJIANG: Ancient architectural art in Xinjiang was greatly influenced by the Indian Buddhism that are reflected in grottoes built on cliffs, temples and towers found in large numbers across Xinjiang. Some important locations are Bezeklik in Turfan, Kucha, Kizil, Cherchelik and Niya.

LUOYANG: Near Luoyang city in Henan province, the Longmen Caves are one of China's four major Buddhist caves. Construction began in the northern Wei dynasty (488 AD) and lasted through the Tang and Song dynasties until the 14th century. Consists of over 100,000 statues, some 40 pagodas and 3600 tablets.

DAZU: Dazu Grottoes are cliff-side carvings in Chongqing municipality, of which the Baoding Grotto is the largest and the best preserved. Construction began in the Tang dynasty (650A.D.) and continued through the Ming and Qing. Includes more than 50,000 Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian rock carvings.

DATONG: Datong in Shanxi province is famous for the Yungang Grottoes, hewn in a cliff side in a honeycomb pattern, forming grottoes that stretch about a kilometre. Belonging to the Northern Wei period (453-494 A.D.), it consists of about 1,000 grottoes and some 100,000 Buddhist statues.


Five Pagoda temple (Wuta Si), Beijing: Built in the reign of Emperor Yongle of the Ming Dynasty (1403-1424), the temple is modelled after the Bodhgaya temple. Attracted countless pilgrims each year during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Carvings in Sanskrit and Tibetan. The pagoda was heavily damaged during the Cultural Revolution and the earthquake at Tangshan in 1976. Restored since 1979.

White Horse Temple (Baima Si), Luoyang: Northeast of Luoyang in Henan province, the original monastery at this site, constructed in AD 75, was one of the first Buddhist temples in China. Legend has it that two monks from India riding a white horse delivered the Buddhist sutras to Luoyang--hence the temple's name. Dharmaratna and Kasyapa Matanga, the first Indian teachers of Buddhism in China in the first century AD, stayed at this temple. The buildings seen today date from the Ming dynasty. The Baimasi today is an active centre for Zen (Chan) Buddhism and a few monks still live on its grounds. At present, to celebrate the historical role of the Temple in bringing India and China together, Government of India is building an Indian style Buddhist shrine within the original temple complex.

Big and Little Goose Pagodas, Xi'an: Originally built in 589 A.D. in the Sui Dynasty in China's ancient capital Chang'an (today's Xi'an in Shaanxi province), the Big Goose Pagoda is more famous as the temple reconstructed by the Tang Emperor for Xuan Zang to stay and translate the original Sanskrit texts which he brought from India. The texts were subsequently stored here. Xuan Zang was also the temple's abbot. The little Goose Pagoda was built in 709 AD and was associated with the Buddhist monk Yijing, who translated some 400 volumes of Sanskrit scriptures brought from India.

Famen Si, Fufeng: Near Xi'an, and founded in the Western Wei dynasty, but assuming greater importance during the Tang dynasty (618-907 A.D.), the centrepiece of the relics at Famen Si, or the Gate of Dharma, was a set of four finger bones that were believed to be those of Buddha himself. The reliquary objects lay undisturbed for centuries, until the 1980s, when the pagoda collapsed and renovation revealed three stone chambers beneath the foundations.

Shaolin Temple: Near Dengfeng in Henan province, the Shaolin Temple was established in the 6th century AD by the Indian Buddhist master, Bodhidharma (Damo, in Chinese) as a great centre of martial arts. Under Bodhidharma, Shaolin flourished as a centre of Zen Buddhism, which became the most influential branch of Chinese Buddhism after the Tang.

Kong Xiang Temple, Sanmenxia: Built beside Bodhidharma's grave in Sanmenxia in Henan province, the Kong Xiang temple recently held a large-scale celebration of Bodhidharma's 1500th birth anniversary.

Kaiyuan Temple, Quanzhou: Built in 7th century AD in Quanzhou, which was founded by Emperor Kaiyuan in the Tang Dynasty, Kaiyuan Temple's Mahavira Hall has two carved stone poles bearing carvings of Shiva. The poles were apparently transported to Quanzhou from Indian temple nearby. Other unique stone relics include a carving of a winged Buddha, an elephant offering flowers to a Shivalinga and a standing statue of Vishnu. Over 300 Hindu architectural and sculptural fragments have been identified in Quanzhou since they were first discovered in 1933. Since many fragments were found near the Tonghuai Gate as part of the city wall rebuilt in the Ming dynasty, it is likely that there was a Hindu temple in the south-eastern part of the city.

Remnants of Hindu temples are also believed to be in Lijiang in Yunnan province and at Fuzhou in Fujian province.

Memorials/ Museums

Dr. Kotnis Memorial, Shijiazhuang: A member of the Indian Medical Mission sent to China during the war with Japan, Dr. Kotnis' grave is presently at Shijiazhuang (Hebei province). A memorial in his name is located in the city's Martyr's Museum Park.

Museum of History, Xi'an: The museum has a large collection of Xuan Zang's scriptures.

Parsi Cemetery, Guangzhou: Remnants of an old Parsi cemetery discovered close to Guangzhou in southern China reveal the 18th and 19th century trading links between the Parsi community from India with southern China.

Tagore Museum, Hangzhou: Established by a Chinese scholar, Wei Fengjiang, who studied in Shantiniketan in the forties, the museum has memorabilia of Tagore's visit to China in 1924 and other objects.

Across the Hump Memorial, Kunming: Carries WW II collections from British India, when allied forces flew transport planes from Calcutta to Kunming to support the KMT-Communist United Front in the war against Japan.

Chengdu: The museum contains a collection of Pali scripture etchings on bamboo discovered near Chengdu in Sichuan province. Most of these scriptures are believed to have been originally brought from north-east India through the overland route and to have been etched on bamboo in China.

Qingdao: Buddhist scholar Fa Xian's (Fa Hyan) return voyage from India is commemorated near the port city of Qingdao in Shandong province where his ship, believed to have been drifted astray, managed to return after a long voyage from Sri Lanka and Indonesia.

India-China: Political Relations

On 1 April, 1950, India became the first non-socialist bloc country to establish diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China. Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru visited China in October 1954. While, the India-China border conflict in 1962 was a serious setback to ties, Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s landmark visit in 1988 began a phase of improvement in bilateral relations. The Joint Statement issued during the visit on 23 December 1988 clearly stated, “The leaders of the two countries held ernest, in-depth discussions on the India-China boundary question and agreed to settle this question through peaceful and friendly consultations. They also agreed to develop their relations actively in other fields and work hard to create a favourable climate and conditions for a fair and reasonable settlement of the boundary question while seeking a mutually acceptable solution to this question.” In 1993, the signing of an Agreement on the Maintenance of Peace and Tranquility along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) on the India-China Border Areas during Prime Minister Narasimha Rao’s visit, reflected the growing stability and substance in bilateral ties. This was augmented by the Agreement on Confidence building Measures in the military Field Along the LAC in the India-China Border Areas.

Visits of Heads of States/Heads of Governments

Cumulative outcomes of seven key visits in recent times have been transformational for our ties. These were that of Prime Minister Vajpayee[2003], of Premier Wen Jiabao [2005 & 2010], of President Hu Jintao [2006], of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [2008 and 2013] and of Premier Li Keqiang [2013].

During Prime Minister Vajpayee’s visit, the two sides signed a Declaration on Principles for Relations and Comprehensive Cooperation and also mutually decided to appoint Special Representatives (SRs) to explore the framework of a boundary settlement from the political perspective.

The two sides established a Strategic and Cooperative Partnership for Peace and Prosperity during the April 2005 visit of Premier Wen Jiabao.This visit also saw the signing of an agreement on Political Parameters and Guiding Principles which signaled the successful conclusion of the first phase of SR Talks.

During Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit to India in November 2006, the two sides issued a Joint Declaration containing a ten-pronged strategy to intensify cooperation.

Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh visited China in January 2008. Ajoint document titled "A Shared Vision for the 21st Century" was issued during the visit.

When Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visited India in December 2010, both sides decided to establish the mechanism of regular exchange of visits between Heads of State/Government.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang paid a State visit to India(Delhi-Mumbai) from 19-21 May 2013. During this visit, the two sides signed eight agreements and released a Joint Statement. Some of the significant proposals included in the Joint Statement were the decision to designate 2014 as the Year of Friendly Exchanges between India and China, decision to hold the first High Level Media Forum and the agreement to facilitate cooperation and linkages between Indian and Chinese cities & states/provinces. The first meeting of the India-China CEO’s Forum was also held during this visit.

Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh paid an official visit to China from 22-24 October 2013. He met with President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang and Chairman of Standing Committee of National People’s Congress Zhang Dejiang and former Premier Wen Jiabao. Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh also gave a speech at the Central Party School in Beijing. The two sides released a Joint Statement titled “A vision for future development of India-China strategic and cooperative partnership.” Agreements relating to border defence cooperation,trans-border rivers, establishing service centers for servicing power equipmentin India, road transport and Nalanda University were signed. Also signed were three agreements establishing sister-city partnership between Delhi-Beijing, Kolkata-Kunming and Bangalore-Chengdu.

It is noteworthy that more than 60% of the agreements between India and China have been signed during the last decade. As of today, both sides have established nearly 40 dialogue mechanisms covering diverse sectors.

The leaders of India and China have also been meeting on the sidelines of regional, plurilateral and multilateral gatherings and conferences. In terms of recent interactions, mention may be made of the visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao to India in March 2012 for the BRICS Summit. On 27 March 2013, during the 5th BRICS Summit in Durban, Prime Minister met with the new Chinese President Xi Jinping for the first time. The leaders of the two countries have also met on the sidelines of various multilateral summits.

Other high level visits

While External Affairs Minister visited China twice in 2012, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi visited India in February. External Affairs Minister, Shri Salman Khurshid, paid an official visit from 9-10 May 2013 and met with Premier Li Keqiang, State Councillor Yang Jiechi and Foreign Minister Wang Yi. EAM also met with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Bruneion the sidelines of the ARF Foreign Ministers Meeting on 2 July 2013. During this visit, the Protocol between the Ministry of External Affairs of the Republic of India and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China on cooperation in bilateral relations was signed.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi also visited India from 9-11 November 2013 to participate in the RIC Trilateral Foreign Ministers Meetingand the ASEM FMs meeting.

Chinese Defence Minister visited India in September 2012. Raksha Mantri Shri A.K. Antony paid a three day official visit to China from 4-7 July 2013. He held delegation level talks with his counterpart Gen. Chang Wanquan and also called on Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. A Joint Statement was also released during the visit on 6 July.

The Special Representatives on the India-China Boundary Question have met 16 times so far. The 16th round of talks between the Special Representatives, Shri Shivshankar Menon, National Security Adviser and Mr Yang Jiechi, State Councillor took place in Beijing on June 28-29, 2013. Shri Menon called on Premier Li Keqiang and met with Foreign Minister Wang Yi on 28 June 2013. It may be recalled that at the conclusion of the 15th round of the SR Talks in New Delhi in January 2012, the two countries reached a consensus to set-up the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs, which has already met four times.  

To facilitate high level exchanges of Party leaders from China and State Chief Ministers from India, a special arrangement has been entered into by the International Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA-ILD) since 2004. There areregular Party-to-Party exchanges between the Communist Party of China and  political parties in India.

Major dialogue mechanisms

The year 2013 saw a continuation and expansion of the bilateral dialogue mechanisms. The fifth round of India-China Strategic Dialogue was held in New Delhi on 20 August 2013. The Indian side was led by Foreign Secretary,Smt. Sujatha Singh, and the Chinese side was led by Vice Foreign Minister Mr.Liu Zhenmin. Also, consultations on Afghanistan (April), the Sixth Round of the Counter-Terrorism Dialogue (April), Consular Talks (May) and the first Central Asia Dialogue (August) were held in China in 2013. Besides, Foreign Office Consultations was held in September 2013. Further, the seventh meeting of the Expert-Level Mechanism on Trans-border Rivers between China and India was held in Beijing in May 2013.


India-China political relations are enhanced and strengthened by various mechanisms.  There is a close and regular interaction between strategic and foreign policy think-tanks. These exchanges continued to be strengthened during 2013. CICIR has regular interactions with IDSA and ICS; there is a dialogue between China Reform Forum and Aspen India; between USI and China Institute for Internationa Strategic Studies; as well as between ICWA and CPIFA

India-China: Economic Relations
India-China economic relations constitute an important element of the strategic and cooperative partnership between the two countries. Several institutional mechanisms have been established for enhancing and strengthening economic cooperation between the two countries. Besides the India-China Joint Economic Group on Economic Relations and Trade, Science andTechnology (JEG) and the India-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (SED), a Financial Dialogue has also been taking place between the two countries since2006.

India-China Financial Dialogue: In accordance with the MoU on the Launchof the Financial Dialogue between India and China, signed during Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to India in April 2005, the two sides have since successfully held six Financial Dialogues in April 2006, December 2007, January 2009, September 2010, November 2011 and September 2013 respectively. The Sixth India-China Financial Dialogue was held on September 26, 2013 in Beijing. A Joint Statement was signed and released at the end of the Dialogue. During this Dialogue, the two sides held in-depth discussions on new challenges facing the global economy, macro-economic situations and policies in India and China, progress on structural reforms in both countries, cooperation under multilateral frameworks as well as bilateral financial cooperation. The Seventh India-China Financial Dialogue is scheduled to be held in New Delhi in 2014.

Banking Links: Many Indian banks have established their presence in mainland China in the last few years. Four Indian banks, namely, State Bank of India (Shanghai and Tianjin), Canara Bank (Shanghai), Bank of Baroda (Guangzhou) and Bank of India (Shenzhen) have branch offices in China. At present, the State Bank of India is the only Indian bank to have authorization to conduct local currency (RMB )business at its branch in Shanghai. Besides, the following representative offices of Indian banks are also operating in mainland China:

(i)       Axis Bank, Shanghai

(ii)      Punjab National Bank, Shanghai

(iii)     Union Bank of India, Shanghai

(iv)     ICICI Bank, Shanghai

(v)      Bank of India, Beijing

(vi)     Union Bank of India, Beijing

(vii)    Allahabad Bank, Shenzhen

(viii)    Indian Overseas Bank, Guangzhou

More Indian banks are planning to upgrade their Representative Offices in China to branch offices and existing branch offices are applying for RMB license.

In early 2011, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) secured a license to start banking operations in India. ICBC inaugurated their Mumbai branch on September 15, 2011. This marked the opening of the first branch of a mainland Chinese bank in India.

Various government institutions and agencies from the two countries have also been interacting with each other for furthering cooperation in the areas such as taxation, auditing, human resource development and employment, health, urban and rural development and tourism. There is a close exchange and interaction between the economic think tanks and scholars as well.
Education/Student Related Information

Please note the following guidelines for Indian studens wishing to pursue studies in China and advisory for Indian students studying in China :