Understanding the current scenario between India and China Part 1
No country now demands attention from the Indian defense and strategic perspective than China. So through these articles of mine, I would love to take a look at difference aspects of India-China relat
No country now demands attention from the Indian defense and strategic perspective than China. So through these articles of mine, I would love to take a look at difference aspects of India-China relations.
First of all, the basic and probably the most important aspect of the China-India equation is how these two countries look and perceive each other. In this article, I will discuss on this probably most important but often overlooked aspect of India-China scenario.
I have created the following perception matrix to explain how China and India look and perceive each other. This pictorial representation of India-China equation also looks at how both these two countries look at their most recent history.
How China Looks at Itself, India and history
China perceives itself as the “middle kingdom” i.e. the nation at the center of the universe.
1. China considers India as a post-colonial country that is yet to fully develop as much as China because of the colonial upbringing of India’s current ruling elite.
2. Since China considers the modern Indian elite as formed due to the British colonial rule therefore India will be and is currently unable to conceive for itself a new sense of modernity.
3. China considers the recent history of 1839-1949 as the “Century of humiliation” as the century where Western foreign powers did humiliate China when the nation was weak and vulnerable.
4. However the previous foreign rule of China by the Mongols and Manchus are considered as part of China’s historical legacy. These periods of Chinese history are considered overall positive as they did unify China and brought distant regions such as Xinjiang and Tibet under Chinese civilizational realm while later sinicizing themselves i.e. permanently becoming part of the Chinese civilizational realm themselves.
How India Looks at herself, China and history
India perceives China as a country which is a tyrannical authoritarian one-party dictatorship which has become immensely powerful over last few decades albeit after oppressing its populace.
India perceives herself as “Akhand Bharat” i.e. the state that should dominate South and South-East Asia as the natural legatee of the British Raj in this region.
In the case of India, the Delhi Sultanat and the Mughal periods are considered as the time, when alien foreign dynasties humiliated and deformed India to such an extent that the ancient glorious Akhand Bharat had been completely eliminated as a way of life from the face of history.
The British colonial period is considered to be a necessary evil in the sense that although the British exploited and oppressed the people however for their administrative purpose, they created institutions such as the police, army, railways, universities and even popular entertainment mediums such as cricket and movies which are fundamental to the existence of current India. So ultimately the British colonial period is perceived by most of the Indians as a necessary evil which although did exploit resources of the region however created and nurtured necessary institutions of the contemporary Indian political economy.
The above matrix will be immensely helpful for my readers to understand how India and China look at themselves as well as each other and their own histories. The most key part here is that in the minds of the Chinese, India is a nation that has been formed by the wishes of their colonial masters and it is still unable or unwilling to create its own sense of modernity unlike the Chinese themselves who created their modern nation through a popular revolution. This should explain the outlook of disdain that the Chinese commentators dish out time to time, when they are describing the failures of modern India like the COVID or pollution in major Indian cities.