Dr Manjeet S Pardesi
In sharp contrast to most analyses that focus on the Sino-Indian relationship from the late 1940s onwards, this talk argues that it is important to understand Sino-Indian interactions over the previous century to understand the strategic images that the leaders of the modern Chinese and Indian states formed of the other in the late 1940s. Modern China encountered modern India as an agent of British imperialism. Therefore, the Chinese elite resorted to the availability heuristic to understand modern India. The Chinese leadership found it difficult to accept India's desire to play the role of a leader in Asia in the 1940s and attributed the image of an “imperial” power to India. By contrast, the Indian leadership viewed China as a fellow victim of colonialism that had sought help from India during the Second World War. Therefore, they attributed the image of a “partner” to China with whom they sought to build the postwar/postcolonial order in Asia. The Indian leadership's interpretation was based on this confirmation bias after 1947 even in the face of contradictory signals from China. The Indian image of China changed to that of an “expansionist” power only after the Communist Chinese invasion/annexation of Tibet in 1950-51.
Manjeet S Pardesi is a Senior Lecturer in International Relations and an Asia Research Fellow at the Centre for Strategic Studies at Victoria University of Wellington. He obtained his PhD in Political Science from Indiana University, Bloomington (IUB). His research interests include great power politics, strategic rivalries, Asian security, Indian foreign policy, and international relations in world history. He is a co-editor of India's Military Modernization: Challenges and Prospects (Oxford, 2014).
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