Have China and India ever been friends during any point in history?
Anil Bharadwaj, I eat Global Times for Breakfast
Before the mid-1940’s, neither China nor India existed as states we see and talk about today. So the question is kind of misplaced on one count.
India could get serious with the Westphalian order only after its independence from Great Britain in 1947. Without a Westphalian yardstick, it is hard to gauge the quality of relations and diplomacy between the two states by contemporary standards.
So I intend to specifically exclude the period of British Raj in India. If we were to count that, (British) India and China sat down as opposing belligerents in the Opium War. This again, is owing to the fact that India was not acting on its own agency and merely under a subjugated authority. The same is the case with the Boxer Rebellion.
But again, under the same British Raj, India and China fought against Japan in the Battle of Hong Kong. The euro-centric narrative celebrated the valour of British and Canadian forces conveniently ignoring the efforts of Indian and Chinese regiments. But India and China stood for each other in the battle. This was in the year 1941, 21 years in the run-up to the Sino-Indian war.
This piece of forgotten history has been very indicative of (and instrumental in) shaping up both the countries’ unanimous anti-imperialist and socialist stances leading up to Indian independence in 1947 and the Communist Revolution in China spanning 5 years in the mean time.
Rewinding back further into history, India and China had significant trade relations, with renewed zeal from time to time. This is a map of trade network that India was a part of. Notice how deep into the southern part of Indian subcontinent the trade route has permeated.
This was called the Ancient Silk Road. Does this remind you that history can repeat and is repeating?
Except that India of the 21st Century, being the big bitch that she is according to the Chinese media, does not want to participate.
India was an entrepot zone for Central Asian, Greek and Arab buyers of Chinese products, that mainly included Chinese Cloth and Bamboo products.
Ancient silk route was bustling with trade until the Mongol Empire started to fragment and disintegrate. Trade Emissaries from China to South Asia continued after that during the Ming Dynasty, but not in the way trade prospered when Silk Route was in vogue.
There exist records of Tamil Hindu Traders settling in Quangzhou during the reign of Yuan Dynasty.
Behind China’s Hindu temples, a forgotten history
Funnily, in those times, apart from the face, a person was recognised to be from South Asia, based on his vegetarian habits, a timeless legacy I am proud to carry it myself.
The Chola Dynasty in particular conducted a great deal of diplomacy with the Chinese. The maritime part of the Silk Road, stretching from Indonesia into the north of the China sea, was taken into control by conquering the Sri Vijaya Empire. By modern standards, a Navy projecting power through commerce into the China Seas could, in all fairness, be called a Blue Water Navy and the Cholas maintained one. Whatever it is, the Cholas of India and the Song Dynasty of China have had their priorities right.
Politically, the only empire the tried to foray into the Chinese territories was the Kushana Empire, extending as north and east into Central Asia as Kashgar, Xinjiang.