China-India Relations in the Twenty-First Century: Decoding Border Disputes with Critical Junctures

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

China-India border disputes are one of the most prominent factors embedded in Sino-Indian relations, as they began influencing the relationship between the two Asian powers since the end of the Second World War. The aim of this paper is to identify the historic, geopolitical, and economic reasons behind China-India disputes, showing under which conditions the emergence of a critical juncture helped Beijing and New Delhi governments to partially or completely solve their controversies, as well as what happened when one of the two parts involved in the dispute did not recognize the emergence of a critical juncture.

China-India border disputes are one of the most prominent factors embedded in Sino-Indian relations.[i] Border disputes began influencing the relationship between China and India after the end of the Second World War. In 2003 China and India found a stable compromise on border disputes over Tibet, however they have not reached a resolution on disputes over the Aksai Chin Plateau and Arunachal Pradesh.[ii]

The aim of this essay is to identify the historic, geopolitical, and economic reasons behind each dispute, showing under which conditions the emergence of a critical juncture helped Beijing and New Delhi partially or completely solve their controversies, as well as what happened when they did not recognize the critical juncture. Critical junctures lead countries to a compromise by restricting their possible choices at a time in which, due to external factors, their preferences have already been transformed from a non-cooperative game to a more cooperative one.

Section one analyzes the Tibetan dispute, and, because the removal of Tibet as a buffer zone created sovereignty problems in the Aksai Chin plateau and all along the McMahon line, disputes over these areas will be discussed in section two. For each territory, the essay explains the reasons why China and India claim sovereignty, retracing both their history and the strategic importance of the disputed territories. Furthermore, it highlights why, only for the case of Tibet, external constrictions and critical junctures helped to bring about a compromise. Finally, the essay reviews the differences that have prevented China and India from achieving similar agreements for Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh.

The Tibetan Case

Both Chinese and Indian nationalist narratives include Tibet in their respective sphere of influence; therefore, overlapping interests add to their tendency to perceive the presence of any other country as a direct challenge.[iii] This understanding has prevented China and India from finding a compromise on their borders since the late 1940s.

Although Tibet has not always been subject to direct Chinese political control, Beijing has long argued that Tibet is part of China, according to the tributary system tradition.[iv] Accordingly, Chinese have always considered the incorporation of Tibet into the Republic of China as legitimate. According to New Delhi, if the Tibetan plateau does not become a part of India, it must remain a buffer zone between the two countries.

The current Tibetan turmoil dates back to 1947, when Indian leaders officially stated their interest in continuing the British policy of “support[ing] the independence of Tibet, subject to the suzerainty of China,” and unofficially strengthening Tibet’s military capabilities to resist Chinese penetration.[v]

Mao Zedong announced China’s determination to “liberate” Tibet only in November 1949. Jawaharlal Nehru—the first prime minister of India—has often been described as an idealistic leader who understood only too late China’s real ambitions in the area. This essay argues that even though Nehru officially tried to persuade Beijing that New Delhi wanted to strengthen friendly bilateral relations and was not interested in interfering with Chinese-Tibetan policy, he did not entirely reject the realpolitik interpretation of Beijing’s foreign policy backed by his Deputy, Sardar Vallabhbhai Jhaverbhai Patel.[vi]

Mao Zedong ordered the military occupation of Tibet in January 1950 “to free three million Tibetans from Western imperialist oppression and to consolidate the national defense on China’s western border,” and New Delhi feared that after completing their infiltration into Tibet, Chinese troops might proceed towards Afghanistan, Kashmir, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan, and ultimately India.[vii]

India’s reactions to Chinese ambitions were quite sharp: Deputy Prime Minister Patel stated that Chinese communists were not interested in peace and that it was compulsory “to answer to non-violence with non-violence, but to force with force.”[viii] The Indian government became even more nervous of China expanding its own borders when the Hindustani Standard mentioned that Chinese ambitions were not limited to Tibet, but rather extended to Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan, and Assam, dangerously threatening Indian status within the area.[ix] The intransigence of the Indian position was softened right after the United States announced that they were “not interested in intervening against the Chinese invasion of Tibet,” as they “considered the Tibetan issue as an internal problem of China and Tibet,” in effort to pressure India to abandon its non-aligned position.[x]

Although many officials in India were suspicious of China’s intentions, as a result of a retrospective analysis Nehru’s apparent trust of the Chinese intentions could be expected. The early 1950s were the years of the Korean War, and Nehru reckoned at that time that the importance of developing peaceful relations with Beijing far outweighed India’s interest in Tibet.[xi] Until 1954, Indian strategic choices towards China indirectly aimed to prevent Beijing from falling under Moscow’s sphere of influence. On several occasions, Indian diplomats abroad revealed to their colleagues that China was a country that neither its neighbors nor Western powers could afford to ignore in Asia. This strategy manifested in India’s rapprochement of the U.S. policy to keep China outside the international community. The Indian government believed this would have inevitably consolidated the China-Russia relationship.[xii]

In 1953, even the United States admitted that Nehru had understandable reasons to pursue what the United States called a “middle-of-the-road policy.”[xiii] During a private conversation at the Department of State, American diplomats explained to their Italian counterparts that:

Indian foreign policy, despite being impossible to follow, is totally understandable. New Delhi’s government did not choose its strategy because its understanding of contemporary international situation led it to a different conclusion from the one reached by the United States. On the contrary, India has chosen its path following national interest. Despite being a big and densely populated nation, India is also a poor and weak country. Accordingly, since it is not in the position of assuming the responsibilities of any strong action, it prefers to maintain its middle-of-the-road policy, despite that this implies bearing the costs of generous concessions.[xiv]

Arguing that Nehru was apparently trusting of Chinese intentions does not mean that the Indian Prime Minister did not ingeniously assess Beijing’s foreign policy. In May 1951, he judged the agreement signed between the Central People’s Government and the Local Government of Tibet as “a useful tool to socially reforming the area.”[xv]In April 1954, Nehru signed an agreement with China on Tibet in which the region was referred to as “the Tibet region of China.”[xvi]This agreement was not the first time India openly recognized the Chinese position in Tibet. The first recognition happened in July 1952, when the Indian Ambassador to China affirmed, “Following the political change experienced in Tibet…India had no reason to maintain a political emissary in Lhasa and that he had to be replaced by a Consulate General.”[xvii] In May 1954, Nehru reminded the Indian Parliament, “during the last one-hundred years nobody ever questioned Chinese juridical position in Tibet.”[xviii]

A few years later, the repressive and antireligious policies that China adopted in Tibet broadly disappointed Indian leaders, public opinion, and media. In 1959, Indian leaders decided to welcome the Dalai Lama as “a guest of New Delhi’s government,” and to accord refugee status to tens of thousands of displaced people who followed their Spiritual Leader.[xix]

The following decision matrices describe the equilibrium between China and India at the eve of their 1962 border war. The matrices, assuming that actors made their choices sequentially rather than simultaneously, show that neither country can reach the Pareto Optimal Equilibrium, because China had no interest in cooperation—see Matrix 1, where China preference ordering is DC>CC>DD>CD. Also, because preferences are generally different, the matrix that better describes the Sino-Indian relationship in the late 1950s is the Suasion Game—see Matrix 2.[xx]

It is important to understand the various possibilities of both countries’ preferences. For China, a choice of four implies the necessity of using force to control Tibet; a choice of three means the Indian acceptance of China’s takeover of Tibet; a preference of two a compromise on Indian border interests; and choice of one a compromise with Tibetan spiritual leaders mediated by Indian authorities. For India, a choice of four means the maintenance of Tibet as a buffer zone without using force; three means reaching a compromise on border disputes; two means the acceptance of the takeover of Tibet by China; and one means the necessity to fight for Tibetan autonomy.

Matrix 1: Prisoner’s Dilemma.

Number left of comma refers to India’s preference ordering; the number right of the comma refers to China’s ordering. Number four is the best outcome; number one is the worst.










3, 3

1, 4


4, 1

2, 2

Matrix 2: Suasion Game, Bluff.

The number left of the comma refers to India’s preference ordering; the number right of the comma refers to China’s ordering. Number four is the best outcome; number one is the worst.










3, 3

2, 4


4, 1

1, 2


During the 1950s, Indian military weakness and the aforementioned middle-of-the-road policy prevented the country from structuring its preference order in a different way. This situation brought the two countries to the unstable two-four equilibrium, in which India had to accept the Tibetan takeover that China obtained due to the use of force. As it happens for any Called Bluff game, the two-four equilibrium is a very unstable and myopic one, but, because India was not interested in compromising on the border boundaries, China’s last option was to proceed with the takeover. When a few years later, to show off its military superiority, Beijing defeated New Delhi in a short border war, the two-four equilibrium appeared to be more stable than expected.[xxi]

Game theory matrices cannot explain why the two-four payoff remained stable. Indeed, this outcome depends on the effect of a critical juncture that later intervened in reshaping the preferences of both countries. Game theory assumes that in order to move from an unstable to a stable equilibrium, an appropriate exchange of information by international regimes is needed, and the China-India case confirms the idea that facing the absence of an international regime, any significant change can happen only as a consequence of a critical juncture.

The Consequences of Tibetan Liberation: New Border Disputes

Beijing’s Tibetan takeover in 1959 transformed China and India into direct neighbors. Since then, the main disputed border areas between the two countries remained the Aksai Chin plateau and the McMahon Line—the line drawn by the British in 1914 that separates the area known in China as South Tibet from the Indian State of Arunachal Pradesh. In the West, India disputes China’s 1951 occupation of the Aksai Chin Plateau, a remote and desolate area covering 38,000 square kilometers, which at that time was critical to Beijing’s control of Tibet. In the East, China challenges the legitimacy of the McMahon Line and the 90,000 kilometers of land around it. China’s predicates their challenge on the assertion that the government of Tibet did not have sovereign authority to negotiate the treaty with Great Britain.[xxii]

In the 1950s, China adopted the position that its boundary with India had never been formally delineated, and in the 1960s it called for negotiation and compromise on the basis of traditional customary lines. India, however, argued that both natural-historical—in the West—and juridical grounds—in the East—well defined the boundary, and it refused further negotiations for the border even though it agreed to talk with its Chinese counterparts on this issue.[xxiii]

In November 1960, Nehru launched the “forward policy,” aimed at setting military outposts all along the China-India border to avoid Chinese penetration.[xxiv] In this context, the first round of Sino-Indian talks never took place because—as a precondition—New Delhi asked for the evacuation of Aksai Chin, under the assumption that China would not accept such a request. Challenging China’s refusal, “Nehru…ordered Indians to advance into disputed areas and clear Chinese forces, though without firing first. India ignored Chinese warnings to halt its “forward policy,” and the People’s Liberation Army struck suddenly and with overwhelming force. During a month-long war in October-November 1962, Indian defenses crumbled ignominiously and Chinese armies advanced to the limits of China’s claim line.”[xxv] During a unilateral cease-fire, Beijing offered New Delhi a truce and promised to move its army behind the McMahon line in exchange for the end of the Indian “forward policy.” New Delhi refused, war resumed, and Beijing’s army entered the Aksai Chin and moved closer to the Indian state of Assam.[xxvi] Fearing the invasion of Assam, one of the most precious and unstable border territories for India, Nehru asked for American help on 21 November.[xxvii] That same day, China called a second unilateral cease-fire and asked its troops to move behind the McMahon line.[xxviii] Since then, no compromise has been achieved on the border.

In 1959, India decided to block the exports of grains, steel products, fuel oil, clothing, sugar, tea, and wood to Tibet in order to show its condemnation of Chinese takeover. India thought that this move would have been much more effective than it actually did. However, as soon as the Sichuan and Aksai Chin routes opened in 1954 and 1957, dependence on the Chumbi route via India rapidly fell, as well as the dependence on Indian exports.[xxix]Accordingly, while in the late 1950s and 1960s the Aksai Chin route was crucial to guarantee a steady flow of goods to and from Tibet. In the 1970s, China considered the opportunity of settling the Aksai Chin dispute because the route was no longer as critical to maintaining operations in Tibet.[xxx] Unfortunately, this opening was not welcomed on the Indian side, where the status of the Aksai Chin was considered unquestionable. In order to decode this dispute, the Rambo Game is the most useful game theory matrix.

Matrix 3: Suasion Game, Rambo.

The number left of the comma refers to India’s preference ordering; the number right of the comma refers to China’s ordering. Number four is the best outcome; number one is the worst. For China, an outcome of four means legalizing control over the Aksai Chin plateau, and an outcome of three means compromising with New Delhi for an East-West swap. For India, an outcome of four means peacefully guaranteeing Indian sovereignty over both Aksai Chin and the McMahon line, an outcome of three implies using force to achieve the same result, and an outcome of two is the East-West swap option.










4, 3

3, 4


2, 2

1, 1

This article has already argued that by the time of the Chinese takeover, the unstable equilibrium reached by China and India was a two-four. This equilibrium meant that China’s choice to defect implied the necessity of using force to control Tibet, and India’s choice to cooperate implied the acceptance of Chinese takeover of Tibet. In terms of bilateral border disputes, a similar output could not be reached for several reasons. First, India was far more interested in controlling the Aksai Chin and the areas along the McMahon line than it was in promoting Tibetan autonomy. Accordingly, the use of force to guarantee or to obtain New Delhi sovereignty over these territories appeared more justifiable than military action in the Tibetan dispute.

The Rambo Suasion Game assumes that China opted for defection as its main strategy, a choice implying that for this game it is necessary to refer to China as a defecting country and to India as one that cannot adopt the same strategy, unless it wants to reach an even worse equilibrium. The only option India had to improve its outcome was to persuade China to cooperate. It is evident that China, confident in its military superiority—as confirmed by classified notes written by the Italian Consulate General in Hong Kong and the 1962 border war—would never have recognized Indian sovereignty over the two contested areas.[xxxi] This implicitly forced India to cooperate with a defecting China. The outcome of their interaction remained three-four until a critical juncture occurred and modified both countries’ preferences. New Delhi’s intransigence in controlling the Aksai Chin and the McMahon line modified the matrix in a disastrous Rambo Game played by India, with a final equilibrium similar to the one favorable to China, attained in the previously mentioned Called Bluff matrix.[xxxii]

The control of the McMahon area is “linked to the defensibility of India’s entire northeast, including the Indian states of Tripura, Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland, Meghalaya, and Assam, as well as Arunachal Pradesh.”[xxxiii]The north-eastern territories were included in the British Kingdom in 1826 at the end of the Anglo-Burma war. At that time, they were all considered part of a bigger area called Assam.[xxxiv] A few decades later, Indian rule there started to be challenged by local rebellions that New Delhi frequently had to confront militarily.[xxxv]

Generally speaking, the situation all along the Sino-Indian border shows one country, China, claiming its sovereignty over the Aksai Chin plateau—an area that is crucial for monitoring Tibetan security—and another country, India, fighting for the legitimacy of the McMahon Line, which is currently demarcating the porous Indian eastern border with Tibet.[xxxvi] Being that these areas are so sensitive for bilateral security, the best outcome for both nations would be a mutual recognition of their sovereignty. The People’s Republic of China unsuccessfully tried twice—in 1960 and in 1980—to reach a compromise. In April 1960, Prime Minister Zhou Enlai made use of an official visit to New Delhi to ask Nehru to accept the current situation on the border. During an unofficial press conference after the meeting with the Indian Prime Minister, he mentioned to the media, “he asked India to adopt towards the western sector an attitude similar to China’s attitude towards the eastern sector.”[xxxvii] In October 1964, during a non-aligned nations conference in Cairo, “China made another offer to settle her border differences with India by negotiations.”[xxxviii] In June 1980, a Xinhua commentary—paraphrasing the words of a Deng Xiaoping’s speech—asserted that the key problem between China and India was border demarcation. The commentary asserted that the problem should be solved by, “mutual understanding and concession.”[xxxix] In both cases Indian replies left no room to proceed with the East-West swap, confirming, as the Rambo Game matrix previously showed, that India’s main interest was one of guaranteeing its sovereignty over both territories.[xl]

Rather than profiting from what Beijing thought were reasonable compromises, New Delhi’s leaders maintained a strong position stressing that they welcomed a quick settlement of the eastern sector of the border, but they did not want to make any concessions on the western one.[xli] China interpreted Indian refusals as the continued demonstration of New Delhi’s arrogance, pushing Beijing to adopt a firm position on the legitimacy of the McMahon Line.[xlii]Confirming Chinese perceptions, in December 1986, the Indian parliament decided to change the status of the union territory—which until 1986 had framed the area around the McMahon Line—into a full state of the Indian union named Arunachal Pradesh. This was a clear taunt against the legitimacy of the Chinese claim regarding the McMahon line.[xliii]

Regarding China’s attitude towards border section negotiations, it seems reasonable to argue that the pressures for avoiding the deterioration of Sino-Indian relationships in 1960 came from a Sino-Soviet split that made China’s position weaker at a time when the best route for accessing Tibet was still the route through the Aksai Chin plateau. In 1980, the change was favored by the new Communist Party leader Deng Xiaoping, who reoriented Chinese priority towards reducing international conflicts and misunderstandings in order to strengthen mutually beneficial economic exchanges. In both cases, an external event or a new priority for Chinese leaders—a critical juncture—pushed the country to reconsider its position towards border disputes. However, Beijing’s responses to both critical junctures were followed by New Delhi’s non-response to China’s new preferences, leaving a further deterioration of their relationship as the only possible outcome.


The Tibetan equilibrium started changing in 1978, after reform-oriented leaders took power in Beijing. However, it was only in 2003 that a criticaljuncturesignificantly altered the Tibetan equilibrium, and New Delhi and Beijing reached a stable compromise on the area.

As soon as China and India realized that it was in the interests of both countries’ to strengthen a cooperative rather than an antagonistic relationship, Tibet became the best opportunity to enhance this mutual understanding. It is not by coincidence that during the April 2005 meeting the two sides scheduled the reopening of Nathula border pass as a symbolic move to cement the new strategic partnership between China and India.[xliv]

Despite the official recognition of Chinese sovereignty over Tibet, several disputes remain open, and unless a new critical juncture encourages Chinese and Indian leaders to modify the order of their preferences, a trend of consolidated cooperation will not emerge to pave the way for a stable region. The Sino-Indian equilibrium in Tibet has not been definitively settled. Two more hindrances are thwarting a peaceful settlement for Tibetans since 1959: a not always firm Chinese control over the region and the enduring presence of Tibetan refugees guided by the Dalai Lama in exile in India.[xlv]

Considering these circumstances, the recognition of Chinese sovereignty over Tibet in 2003 represents the most significant compromise China and India could reach on a controversial issue, at a time when the necessity of sustaining bilateral trade growth also pushed them to find a mutually acceptable solution.

It is interesting to highlight why attempts to find compromise on Tibet before 2003 failed. From the 1950s to the 1990s, Sino-Indian interactions were so adversarial that any internal or external event impacting leaders’ order of preferences succeeded in modifying the game theory describing their interactions from highly adversarial to less antagonistic. In many cases, such as during 1962 border war and the second Chinese offer of an East-West swap, Sino-Indian relations were dominated by concerns about an unstable bilateral equilibrium, internal and external strategic and political considerations, and national interests and priorities not necessarily oriented towards stabilizing bilateral interactions. This happened because both leaders did not identify the emergence of a critical juncture generated by the evolving international scenario, and, whether the non-recognition was voluntary or not, it inevitably deteriorated Sino-Indian bilateral relations.

Both sides identified the critical juncture that in 2003-2005 led to the bilateral recognition of Tibetand Sikkim for two reasons. First, external pressures were stronger than before. Economic growth and commercial development became high priorities for both nations. China and India were two countries whose economic interests appeared complimentary at that time. Neither of them could afford to lose such an important economic partner. Second, after the Cold War ended, Indian and Chinese relations with Russia and the United States became loose and ambiguous.[xlvi] Accordingly, New Delhi and Beijing could not count on their historical connections with either Washington or Moscow when facing any threats from their neighbor.

These external conditions acted as critical junctures on Chinese and Indian preferences, because they significantly limited decision makers’ choices. Beijing and New Delhi needed new commercial partners and could not count on Russian or American help to solve their troubles, since the strategies of Russia and the United States toward Asia were changing. Consequently, India and China had to reconsider their neighbor’s approach to the region. The inevitable outcome was a compromise on less strategic issues such as the recognition of Tibet, where de facto but not de jure the Chinese status had already been accepted.

This critical juncture created a positive outcome, because it influenced an equilibrium that had already become less adversarial compared to the matrices describing Sino-Indian interactions from the 1950s to the 1990s. Sino-Indian relations were not friendly in the 1990s. However, when the decision-makers’ choices were restricted by the previously mentioned critical juncture, Beijing and New Delhi realized that reaching a compromise on Tibet was the best choice for given each countries national priorities.[xlvii]

Although sharing the idea that “a future of mutual engagement belongs to these two countries,”[xlviii]it is preferable to take a more careful approach regarding the interpretation of the way in which China and India keep on expressing their concerns about the borders. In the past, the evolution of Sino-Indian interactions on the borders improved only when critical junctures affected leaders’ preferences and when both countries were able to identify them. When national interests are at stake, China and India tend to interact as foes rather than as friends. This attitude confirms that a new and widely recognized critical juncture influencing the order of the preferences reshaping their bilateral interactions is needed to further improve Sino-Indian relations.

Author’s Biography

Claudia Astarita is an adjunct professor of Politics of China at John Cabot University and Asian Studies at Luiss University, as well as an international relations analyst, focused on India, at CeMiSS, Military Centre for Strategic Studies, in Rome.[xlix] She obtained her Ph.D. from Hong Kong University in 2010 and worked as a researcher both at the university, as well as at the French Centre for Research on Contemporary China (CEFC) from 2006 to 2010.[l] Her main research interests include China’s political and economic development, Chinese and Indian foreign policies, and East Asian regionalism and regional economic integration. Her works have been published by Chinese, Indian, American, English and Italian publishers. In Italy, Claudia Astarita regularly contributes to several newspapers and magazines—such as Il Secolo XIX, Panorama, and EAST—with articles on Asian political, economic, and social issues.


[i] Zhang Guihong, “Sino-Indian Security Relations: Bilateral Issues, External Factors and Regional Implications,” South Asian Survey 12, no. 1 (March 2005), 61.

[ii] Zhang Guihong, 61; Claudio Landi, Il dragone e l’elefante. Cina e India nel Secolo dell’Asia, (Firenze: Passigli, 2007), 221-224, 243-244.
[iii] George K. Tanham, “Indian Strategic Culture,”Washington Quarterly 15 (1992), 131.
[iv] Giovanni Andornino, Dopo la muraglia. La Cina nella politica internazionale del XXI secolo (Milano: Vita e Pensiero, 2008).
[v] Three covert shipments of arms were authorized in June and August 1949 and in March 1950; Kumara Padmanabha Sivasankara Menon, Many Worlds: An Autobiography (London: Oxford University Press, 1965), 270; Tsering Shakya, The Dragon in the Land of Snows: A History of Modern Tibet since 1947 (London: Pimlico, 1999), 12-13.
[vi] Patel died in 1950 without experiencing the truth of his words.
[vii] Italian Embassy, Telespresso, no. 2713/1118 (New Delhi, 11 December 1952).
[viii] “Situazione sempre più complicate in Asia. La capitale del Tibet occupata dalle forze comuniste cinesi,” Il Messaggero, Nov. 9, 1950.
[ix] “Pechino ha imparato da Mosca. La tensione cino-indiana per l’invasione del Tibet,” Il Popolo di Roma, 10 November 1950.
[x] “Gli americani non interverranno nel Tibet,” International News Service, 11 November 1950; Ibid.; Italian Embassy, Telespresso, no. 12003/6906, (Washington D.C., 23 November 1950).
[xi] Norman Palmer, “China’s Relations with India and Pakistan,” Current History (pre-1986), no. 361, September 1971, 150.
[xii] Italian Embassy, Telespresso, no. 1525/564, (New Delhi, 9 July 1953); Italian Embassy, Telespresso, no. 2432/836, (Djakarta, 1 July 1954).
[xiii] Italian Embassy, Telespresso no. 14128/4728 (Washington D.C., 28 October 1953).
[xv] The text of the agreement is in Tsering Shakya, 449-52; Tsepon Shakapba, Tibet: A Political History (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1967), 301-5.
[xvi] Agreement (with exchange of notes) on trade and intercourse between Tibet Region of China and India. Signed at Peking, on 29 April 1954, (United Nations, Treaty Series, volume 299, 1958), 57-81.
[xvii] Italian Embassy, Telespresso no. 457/200 (Hong Kong, 5 July 1952).
[xviii] Italian Embassy, Telespresso no. 1283/445 (New Delhi, 9 May 1954).
[xix] Girilal Jain, Panchsheel and After: A Reapprisal of Sino-Indian Relations in the Context of Tibetan Insurrection (Bombay: Asia Publishing House, 1960); Frank Moraes, The Revolt in Tibet (Kolkta: Srishti Publications, 1998).
[xx] The two-actor Prisoner’s Dilemma is a game in which both players have to decide whether to ‘cooperate’ with, or ‘defect’ the other player. The preference ordering of both players is DC>CC>DD>CD. Therefore, the rational choice for them is to defect (looking for the DC result), although this strategy will end the game with a pareto-suboptimal result (DD). In an isolated Prisoner’s Dilemma situation, it is always difficult to achieve cooperation, and bilateral defection is the natural outcome of the game. However, even though DD is the result the two players can achieve following their best strategy, it is evident that it would be more convenient for both of them to follow their second best strategy, which is cooperation.
Suasion Games represent a situation in which there is just one equilibrium that satisfies one state and penalizes the other. Consequently, an instance of unrequited cooperation (CD) is the only stable outcome of the game. Within game theory, two versions of Suasion Games can be identified. The first is the Rambo version, where one of the two actors has a dominant strategy that leads him towards cooperation while the second player tends to exploit this situation. The second is the Called Bluff, in which one state has defection as the preferred outcome while the other has to cooperate in order to skirt an even worse outcome.
Andreas Hasenclever, Peter Mayer, and Volker Rittberger, Theories of International Regimes (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 45-55.
[xxi] Samuel Burke, Pakistan’s Foreign Policy (London: Oxford University Press, 1973)
[xxii] Andornino.
[xxiii] Waheguru Pal Singh Sidhu and Jing Dong Yuan, China and India. Cooperation or Conflict? (Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publisher, 2003), 9-21.
[xxiv] Luca Muscarà, “Gli sconfinati confini tra Tibet e Himalaya,” Limes, Rivista italiana di geopolitica, no. 4 (2005), 91.
[xxv] John Garver, Protracted Contest: Sino-Indian Rivalry in the Twentieth Century (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2001), 80.
[xxvi] Harish Kapur, India’s Foreign Policy, 1947-1992: Shadows and Substance (New Delhi: Sage Publications, 1994), 24-27.
[xxvii] Muscarà, 90-91; Palmer, 150-1.
[xxviii] Italian Consulate, Telespresso no. 237/30 (Kolkata, 10 November 1950), declassified on 9 November 2006; Muscarà, 90-91; Palmer, 150-1.
[xxix] Garver, 87.
[xxxi] Italian Consulate General, Telespresso no. 600/345 (Hong Kong, 17 May 1956).
[xxxii] On Indian intransigence see also Italian Embassy, Telespresso, no. 6280/1031 (New Delhi, 23 November 1950).
[xxxiii] Paul Manas, “Nell’India Mongola imperversano le guerriglie etniche,” Limes, Rivista italiana di geopolitica, no. 4 (2005), 260-1; Garver, 92.
[xxxiv] Antonio Armellini, L’elefante ha messo le ali. L’India del XXI secolo (Milano: Università Bocconi Editore, 2008), 94-7.
[xxxv] Sanjib Baruah, Durable Disorder: Understanding the Politics of Northeast India (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2005); Ranabir Samaddar, The Politics of Autonomy: Indian Experience (London: Allen Lane Penguin Books, 2005); Telespresso no. 237/30, India; Italian Embassy, Telespresso no. 2667/931 (New Delhi, 29 October 1953); Italian Embassy, Telespresso no. 2681/990 (New Delhi, 15 October 1954).
[xxxvi]Telespresso no. 237/30, India; Telespresso no. 2667/931, India; Telespresso no. 2681/990, India.
[xxxvii]Neville Maxwell, India’s China War (New York: Garden City, Anchor Books, 1972), 161-69; Garver, 101.
[xxxviii] Palmer, 151.
[xxxix] Garver, 101.
[xl] Telespresso no. 2667/931, India; Telespresso no. 2681/990, India.
[xli] Garver, 101-4.
[xlii] Landi, 40.
[xliii] Telespresso, no. 237/30, India.
[xliv] The Prime Ministers of the two countries met in India in April 2005 for a four days official visit. During this trip, several agreements were signed, most of them oriented to boost trade and economic cooperation. Kalayan Choudhury, “Routes of promise,” Frontline Magazine, 4 April 2003; David Smith, The Dragon and the Elephant: China, India and the New World Order, (London: Profile Books, 2007), 219-20.
[xlv] John Garver, 67.
[xlvi] Guido Formigoni, Storia della politica internazionale nell’età contemporanea (Bologna: Il Mulino, 2006); Scipione Guarracino, Storia degli ultimi sessant’anni. Dalla guerra mondiale al conflitto globale (Milano: Bruno Mondadori, 2004).
[xlvii] Bart Gaens, Juha Jokela, and Eija Limnel, The Role of the European Union in Asia. China and India as Strategic Partners (Farnham Surrey: Ashgate, 2009).
[xlviii] For more insights on China-India new and lasting friendship, see Rajendra K Jain, “China and India as the European Union’s Strategic Partners,” (Round Table comments, Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, Helsinki, 17-18 June 2008).
[xlix] The Italian Centre for Military and Strategic Studies (CeMiSS) sponsored and supported the research for this essay.
[l] CEFC is a member of a network of twenty-seven research centers supported by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the French National Center for Scientific Research.