Kanti Bajpai, India Versus China: Why They Are Not Friends (New Delhi: Juggernaut Books, 2021), 284 pp., ₹399.00, ISBN 9789391165086 (Hardcover).

AuthorAbhishek Verma
Published date01 July 2022
Date01 July 2022
Subject MatterBook Reviews
International Studies
59(3) 273 –275, 2022
© 2022 Jawaharlal Nehru University
Reprints and permissions:
DOI: 10.1177/00208817221118788
Book Review
Kanti Bajpai, India Versus China: Why They Are Not Friends (New Delhi:
Juggernaut Books, 2021), 284 pp., `399.00, ISBN 9789391165086
With endorsements from scholars and diplomats such as Ramachandra Guha,
Shashi Tharoor, Ashley J. Tellis, Shivshankar Menon, and so on, the book presents
a synoptic analysis of the contestation between India and China. It provides a
detailed treatment of four broad arguments on why India and China are not friends.
The four reasons (4 Ps) for this contestation are perceptional differences, territorial
perimeters, strategic partnership with big powers, and asymmetric power. Apart
from the 4 Ps, the role of Pakistan in the bilateral dynamics is inextricable.
According to the author, the China–Pakistan relationship affects more than the
cause (p. 3). The prolific author, Kanti Bajpai, acknowledges that this book draws
upon the existing works by John Garver, Srinath Raghavan and Tansen Sen,
among others.
Bajpai traces the interaction between India and China from ancient times,
defining it mainly in three phases. The first phase from the fourth to nineth century
was defined by religious interaction (Buddhist). Trade relations, especially
maritime trade, marked the second phase from the ninth to the sixteenth century.
From the seventeenth century onwards, British imperialism influenced the
relationship in the third phase during which the perception of each other drastically
changed. India’s propagation of peace and non-violence by personalities such as
Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore conflict with the Chinese communist-
revolutionary society.
To gaze at both countries’ perceptional differences, the author uses travelogues,
media reportages, and both countries’ overarching worldview. While explaining
an anomaly in the positioning of China in India’s Kautilyan worldview, the author
states that ‘unfortunately for India, while a Kautilyan view may suggest that
Russia should see China as its greatest worry, the Russians worry the US and
European powers as their biggest worry’ (p. 47). Although Russia seems to play
the role of junior partner to China, it is more because of the change in power
dynamics since the end of the Cold War (though the Kautilyan view proved
accurate during the Cold War). Moreover, following the Kautilyan view, Russia
has sensed unease with Chinese predominance in Central Asia (Russia supported
India’s inclusion in SCO to balance Chinese predominance). With regard to
Russo-European relationship, elephant in the room is US-led NATO and US

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