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Politics & Law

One of the reasons for the India-China discomfort

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The Economic Times, the leading Indian daily newspaper in English with a readership of over 800,000, published an article stipulating “three key reasons why India and China must not go to war at a time like this” on Sep 12.

“Moving away from ‘assaulting with stones’ to ‘building with BRICS’ could be the new mantra for India and China,” it concludes the essay after highlighting that both nations “have shown similar approaches to address the common challenges”, “the personal chemistry between Modi and Xi is perceived to be conducive for longer-term cooperation”, and “both counties have already collaborated smartly to institutionalize efforts on critical issues like clean energy, sustainable development, infrastructure and finance.” Well, we already know them, don’t we?

We all know both India and China are developing countries working hard to root out poverty, but why are they not working like a dream team?

Some people say they are competitors in many aspects and so on. I agree with many of these points but still, why is the mood, or working relationship, so unfriendly, so sour?

Here I offer a reason and hope that some Indian scholars could come to read this. No, I am not talking about the complicated triangular relationship among India, China and Pakistan, which is too obvious.

I am talking about the divide in perspectives and theories of seeing economic growth and resetting the world order. I have been reading many articles written by Indian researchers for more than 20 years, including the period during which Manmohan Singh served as the Prime Minister of India (2004-14). Many Indian economists and strategists, like Singh who studied economics in Cambridge and Oxford, are heavily influenced by the mainstream Western academia.

They essentially disagree with the ‘China Model’ in economics and ‘Peaceful Rise’ on the political front (e.g. SAAG South Asia Analysis Group). They tend to see themselves as part of the West (or Britain) rather than part of the Third World. They believe the Western theories are universally right and applicable, and therefore, for example, China will fall into the Middle Income Trap, etc. India, they suggest, should not get aboard a ship which will sink soon. For this reason, their attitudes toward China range from being skeptical to total rejection.

As a result, their academic and strategic research papers’ conclusions very often disapprove closer cooperation with China on all fronts, thus producing impacts onto the government here and there to alienate India from China.

Unless more Indian scholars visit China to undertake many more on-site researches so as to realize how a non-Western mechanic works for a Third World country effectively, I do not anticipate a significant change to the India-China relationship.

The opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of China Daily Mail.


About keith K C Hui

Keith K C Hui is a Chinese University of Hong Kong graduate major in Government and Public Administration and the author of "Helmsman Ruler: China's Pragmatic Version of Plato's Ideal Political Succession System In The Republic" (2013).


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