Two reads on the crucial India-China relationship

One paradox is that China is our most powerful neighbor. Yet, we know very little about how this country looks at us and even less. The two best books published in the last 12 months have done a lot to open our eyes. His revelations are, arguably, unpleasant but clearly worthy of attention. Still, I wonder if these books are getting the attention they deserve?

The first of these is that of Kanti Bajpayee India vs. China: Why They Are Not Friends. He is a Wilmer Professor of Asian Studies at the National University of Singapore. After that it was Shyam Saresh How China Views India: An Official Account of the Indo-China Relationship. He is a well-known former Foreign Secretary. They both do the same things but do different and contrasting things.

Saran begins by saying how ignorant we are about China. “India and China have known each other for centuries … now we know very little about the challenge of manifesting itself in a neighboring neighbor, a powerful adversary and multi-dimensional.” More specifically, Bajpai’s introduction highlights how complicated the relationship is: “India-China relations are more complex and more complex than most observers admire or accept.”

Saran says: “India is a retreat image in China’s rear mirror”. The evocative phrase, it implies that India is behind, but is falling further. He adds, “China wants to see India subordinate to Asia’s dominant role.”

Bajpai agreed. “Clearly, China does not see India as a great power” and, therefore, “from a position of strength, China does not see the need to accommodate India … My feeling is that there may be mutual perceptions and asymmetries of power. These are the most serious issues between the two countries.”

AD How different the relationship was until 1000, when India’s influence was high, Saran’s book describes how China’s attitude changed. “China sees India as a ‘slave country’ ruled by foreign power during the British colonial period.” Worse, “Indian soldiers served as shock troops to the British in various British military attacks against China in the nineteenth century. Indian opium traders displayed their wealth in the new urban centers of Shanghai and Hong Kong. Saran concludes that most of China’s negativity flows from it.

Bajpai gives a more disturbing aspect. In an area where we believe we are ahead, China is indeed a strong country. “As a soft power, contrary to the generally held view, China will make India better.” He adds that it “looks like it will last a long time.”

Saran describes how China’s view of the Middle Kingdom in the center of the world was “imagined history” but, after 1962, expanded to include India as part of the periphery of Beijing’s homage. They tell me of the ease with which China defeated India in 1962 and the subsequent insult convinced China that India was not a force to be reckoned with or at times claimed.

This is the factor that Bajpai picked up. China has an economy of about $ 15 trillion. India is about $ 3 trillion. Bajpayee concluded that “China’s gross national power is seven times greater than India’s.” They tell me that the gap is likely to increase.

Bajpai adds, “India needs a near-civilization change,” if it does catch on. He does not believe it is possible. And that “there is no expectation of lasting adjustment until India closes the energy gap substantially.”

Saran expressed concern over India’s current direction under Prime Minister Narendra Modi: “The rise of a narrow nationalism, deliberate communal rivalry … devaluing the assets that make India unique … I believe India has a great opportunity to meet the challenge of China. Remains committed to the values ​​enshrined in its constitution.

I found both books fascinating. They are easy to read. Every page is profitable. When I finished, I understood China very well. This illusion is proof that they have made a big impact.

Karan Thapar is the author of Devil’s Advocate: The Untold Story

The opinions expressed are personal

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