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.









Till date, except for Jawaharlal Nehru insisting that India retains trading rights in Tibet be held by India with the newly form PRC, there is historically little evidence that any King or Emperor ever toyed with the idea of pushing the borders further north ruling from South Asia, including the British themselves.

Culturally, India was a net exporter of soft power into China, a very peculiar phenomenon for India/South Asia. So far in history, India is characterised by how it internalised elements of every other foreign culture, except for China. While the proselytisation of Buddhism along the Silk Route was a given, by far, it was only a one way street, for over two millenia.

译文来源:三泰虎 http://www.santaihu.com/47625.html  译者:Joyceliu




Sayan Dey, Indian | Blogger | Space Lover | Sports | Photography

Obviously, not friends if you are taking that term literally but that we had good relations with China from quite an early age is quite evident.

That Buddhism could spread to the greater parts of Asia was due to the acceptance of it by the Chinese, which could only be possible if there was mutual respect and trust between the people of the two nations (or kingdoms), so to speak.

Also another instance, I can readily recollect at this stage is Bodhdharma, the founder of Shaolin Kung Fu. He was an Indian from the southern part of the land (South India) who went there and taught the Chinese Shaolin. Apart from that, he was alos a Buddhist monk and he is credited with spreading the Chan Buddhism in China.

So basically, I can see two examples, one from the northern part and the other from the southern part, influencing the Chinese in a big way and you can definitely make up without good contact between the two civilizations, this really wouldn’t have been possible.






Gabriel Chan, well-read

"India conquered and dominated China culturally for 20 centuries without ever having to send a single soldier across her border"

— Hu Shih, Former Ambassador of (Republic of) China to USA

Mr. Hu was referring to Buddhism and how Chinese saw the West (India) as a heaven or holy place. It's not friendship but India was highly regarded in China.





Thanos, Software Engineer (2017-present)

India and China don’t share a real border. Himalayas separate each of them. So, people to people contact never happened.

North East of India, which shares a small border and cultural similarities with China, is actually not the real India. We got them from British and still think they are like us.

Some south Indian states had some influence in south East Asia. But, the contact between India and China was never very close. You can find Tamils in Indonesia and Singapore. But unlike ethnic Chinese, they are not so influential or could not act as a bridge.

However, Buddhism started in North India and it spread to China. But, in India Buddhism never became a mainstream religion and many Buddhists disappeared after Islam arrived. You can say there is some similarity in religion.

If you look at history of India, India never had any friends. Invaders came from west with a strange religion and never returned back. Middle east got some food from us, central Asia used to be place for our trade.







Deepak S Fernandes, Born in Bahrain, ex-Indian citizen, now a Polish citizen

Both “China” and “India” in the modern sense are very new countries — The Republic of India dates from 1947 and the People’s Republic of China from 1949.

Until that point in time, there was no large border between the lands.

What you are referring to in your question is between the two civilizations.

The two civilizations have been “friends” since Ashoka’s time when Emperor Ashoka sent Buddhist missionaries to China.

For most of the time, the two civilizations never “touched” each other directly — always separated by Kushans, Turkics, Mongols, Tokharians, Bactrians, Sogdians, Tibetans, sea, mountains.







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