India’s message to China: Respect the rules you expect everyone else to follow

GS Paper II

News Excerpt:

The External Affairs Minister repeated to China that it must respect the international rule based order which China expects everyone to follow.

More About The News: Recently In its fourth such endeavor since 2017, Beijing has renamed 30 locations in Arunachal Pradesh, assigning them Chinese nomenclature. 


  • China's spectacle of releasing "standardized" geographical names in "Zangnan," its term for Arunachal Pradesh, began with the renaming of six places in 2017. This was followed by the addition of 15 places in 2021 and another 11 in 2023. 
  • In 2024, the list expanded to include 30 new places, encompassing residential areas, mountains, rivers, a lake, a mountain pass, and even a piece of land. In response, the Indian External Affairs Ministry rightfully dismissed these renaming antics, firmly rejecting China's attempts.
  • This renaming follows closely after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's recent visit to Arunachal Pradesh, where he inaugurated the Sela Tunnel under the Sela Pass. The tunnel, aimed at ensuring all-weather connectivity between Guwahati and Tawang, strengthens military and civilian access in the region.
  • According to China this is known as "standardization" by the Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs, India perceives this as a gradual assertion of Chinese territorial claims over Indian land. 
  • China regards the entirety of Arunachal Pradesh as 'south Tibet' and depicts the Indian state as part of its territory on its maps. 
  • Through actions such as incorporating Indian territories into its maps and assigning them Chinese names, Beijing appears to repeatedly signal its disinterest in resolving the border conflict unless on its own terms.
  • In response to this stance, the Indian External Affairs Minister emphasized the importance of respecting the rules that one expects others to adhere to. He further stated that Arunachal Pradesh has always belonged to India, continues to do so, and will always remain an integral part of the country.

Brief History of India China Border Dispute:

Pre-Independence Era:

  • 1914: The Simla Accord(Under Lord Hardinge): Representatives from Britain, China, and Tibet met in Simla to negotiate the status of Tibet and its borders. The accord proposed a boundary known as the McMahon Line, named after British representative Henry McMahon. China rejected the accord, primarily because it did not recognize Tibet's independence.

Post-Independence Era:

  • 1947: India gains independence from British rule. Simultaneously, the People's Republic of China (PRC) was established under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
  • 1949: The Chinese Civil War ends with the victory of the CCP. The Republic of China (ROC) relocated to Taiwan.
  • 1950: China asserts sovereignty over Tibet, leading to the annexation of Tibet by Chinese forces. India expresses concerns over Tibet's status and the McMahon Line.
  • 1954: India and China sign the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence (Panchsheel Treaty), aiming to promote peace and cooperation between the two nations.
  • 1956: China publishes maps showing the Aksai Chin region as part of Chinese territory. This contradicts India's claims to the area.
  • 1959: Tensions rise following the Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule and the Dalai Lama's flight to India, where he establishes a government-in-exile. India provides asylum to the Dalai Lama, further straining relations with China.
  • 1960: Talks between India and China fail to resolve the border dispute.
  • 1962: Sino-Indian War: A brief but intense border conflict erupts between India and China. The war ends with China declaring a ceasefire after advancing into Indian territory and subsequently withdrawing to the pre-war borders.
  • 1975: India and China sign the "Trade Agreement Between the Government of India and the Government of the People's Republic of China."
  • 1987: Both countries face off in the Sumdorong Chu Valley in Arunachal Pradesh, leading to heightened tensions. This standoff eventually gets resolved through diplomatic negotiations.
  • 1993: India and China sign an agreement for the maintenance of peace and tranquility along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the India-China border areas.
  • 2005: India and China sign a "Political Parameters and Guiding Principles for the Settlement of the India-China Boundary Question" agreement, outlining the framework for resolving the border dispute.
  • 2020: Deadly clashes occur between Indian and Chinese troops in the Galwan Valley, resulting in casualties on both sides. This incident leads to renewed tensions and increased military build-up along the border.
  • 2021-23: Renaming of Indian cities by China followed by India's rejection.

What should be done: 

  • China's actions are part of a deliberate strategy, reflecting its civilizational identity and its tendency to manipulate historical narratives for long-term gains. For instance, China has invoked historical figures like Zheng He to lay claim to territories he may have visited centuries ago. Similarly, claims about the graves of ancestors in Arunachal Pradesh illustrate China's penchant for using history as a tool for expansion.
  • To effectively counter China, it's crucial to understand its civilizational character and retaliate where it hurts the most. External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar demonstrated this during his visit to the Philippines in March. He emphasized adherence to a rules-based international order and reiterated India's support for the Philippines in upholding its national sovereignty, particularly in the South China Sea disputes.


India's firm stance drew a predictable response from China, with its state media suggesting that India's involvement in the South China Sea would strain bilateral relations. However, India remains committed to responsible global engagement, seeking peace, stability, and credibility in its interactions with all nations, including China. Ultimately, India's message from Manila underscores the importance of adhering to a rules-based international order, a principle it expects China to honor as well.

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