Handbooks of Research on Contemporary China series
Edited by Carla P. Freeman
Chapter 19: Seeing the forest for the trees: China’s shifting perceptions of India
China’s bilateral relationship with India is arguably China’s most significant with another developing country. Not only are China and India the most populous countries and leaders among developing countries, they are also rising powers with the ability to influence the international system. The interactions between them have serious repercussions for the rest of the world, and thus require close attention and careful analysis. Despite this, however, scholarship on Sino-Indian relations has been one-sided. Scholars have tended to emphasize either the security or economic aspects of Sino-Indian relations; emphasis on the former leads to conclusions of an inevitable clash, while emphasis on the latter leads to various interpretations of the notion of ‘Chindia,’ a concept that generally depicts a close and cooperative relationship between the two countries. In reality, countries interact with one another in a variety of ways, simultaneously competing and collaborating. It is difficult to conceive of a head-on clash between China and India today since both have so much at stake domestically that they have little appetite for military adventurism. At the same time, given their historical baggage and unresolved territorial dispute, the issue of Tibet, and the resource needs of both countries, a hearkening back to the 1950s ‘Hindi-Chini bhai-bhai’ based on economic complementarity is also unlikely.
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