Book review: Bajpai, Kanti, India Versus China: Why They Are Not Friends

Published date01 June 2024
AuthorDharmendra Kumar
Date01 June 2024
Subject MatterBook Reviews
Book Reviews 287
Bajpai, Kanti, India Versus China: Why They Are Not Friends. New Delhi:
Juggernaut Books, 2021, 284 pp. (hardcover). ISBN: 9789391165086
DOI: 10.1177/23477970241250115
Kanti Bajpai’s latest book, India Versus China: Why They Are Not Friends, provides
a systematic, coherent, comprehensive and yet readable analysis of the complex
relationship between India and China. The analysis revolves around four key
elements (4Ps)—perception, perimeter, partnership and power and simultaneously
offers insights into the various factors that drive the India–China rivalry, challenges
and opportunities (p. 3). Although the historical trajectory of the relationship
between India and China traces its origins back to antiquity, it has metamorphosed
into an era marked by disdain and mutual suspicion over many decades. Over the
years, several confrontations took place in 1967, 1975, 1986–1987, 2013, 2014,
2015 and 2017, but casualties remained relatively low due to mutual understanding.
Moreover, China, amidst the COVID-19 lockdown, in June 2020, resorted to arm-
twisting in the Galwan Vally region, leading to military escalation and 20 casualties
reported from India, while the Chinese side remains undisclosed (p. 4).
The book is divided into four principal chapters, each dedicated to one of the
4Ps. The introduction provides a historical perspective. The analysis of these
elements is discussed in detail in the subsequent chapters, and the last chapter
concludes to wrap up the book.
In the first chapter, Bajpai explains the ‘perception’ over which the relationship
between India and China has transformed from mutual respect to disdain over the
years. However, the Himalayas separated geography, social and political contact,
but the spread of Buddhism and trade facilitated an interaction between India and
China. The tale began during the fourth to eleventh centuries CE; China looked
towards India due to its cultural outlook and Buddhism. Further, the relationship
reversed from the eleventh to the fifteenth century CE. Furthermore, colonialism
filtered their perception of imperial powers and subjugation by the British.
However, by the late nineteenth century, Chinese attitudes towards India became
negative and vice versa. The bitterness amplified after the 1962 war (p. 9).
Additionally, the shift in perception has reflected not only between the governments
but also among the people and intellectuals of both countries.
In the second chapter, Bajpai explains ‘perimeter’ as the bone of contention in
the relationship between India and China, which turned into bitter and persistent
suspicion between them. Since 1949, both sides of leadership could not reach a
consensus on the three key issues such as boundary delineation, Tibet and military
deployment along the border. Besides, both sides were engaged in confidence-
building measures, including the popular phrase ‘Hindi–Chini, Bhai–Bhai’.
Prevailing apprehension materialised in 1962 when China attacked India and
captured around 38,000 square km of India’s territory, followed by a unilateral
ceasefire declaration. The war hampered India’s national prestige, tarnished the
reputation of J.L. Nehru and resulted in a loss of war, territories and humiliation

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