Bellagio Library/

India Versus China: Why They Are Not Friends

by Kanti Bajpai

Kanti participated in the Bellagio residency program in 2012. During this residency, he began conceptualizing India Versus China: Why They Are Not Friends (Juggernaut, 2021). A scholar of international affairs with a special interest in Indian foreign policy and India–China relations, Kanti is the Wilmar Professor of Asian Studies at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore.

A few words with Kanti

“The most important thoughts I took from my time at Bellagio were the importance of writing a book for the general reader, to present a clean, concise line of argument, and to restrict the size of the book to about 250 pages. The conversations I had while there also reinforced my view that the book should take a long historical view of the relationship between the two Asian giants and that my account should strive to be as balanced as possible between Chinese and Indian views of the rivalry.

“The book was written in three months, just after the military clash in June-July 2020 between the two armies. The publishers chose the title; I would have opted for a less strident one. The book was written with an Indian audience primarily in mind but I did a number of YouTube interviews and a podcast at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington DC that brought the work to a more international audience.”


Why have relations between India and China, which comprise nearly 40% of the world’s population, been troubled for more than 60 years? A war in 1962 was followed by decades of uneasy peace, but in recent years a rising number of serious military confrontations has underlined their huge and growing differences.

This book examines these differences in four crucial areas: their perceptions and prejudices about each other; their continuing disagreements over the border; their changing partnerships with the United States and Russia; and the growing power asymmetry between them.

China demands deference as a great power and the dominant country in Asia, yet India wants recognition and respect as an equal. With such a deep divide separating the two neighbors, what does the future hold?

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To find out more about Kanti’s work, you can visit his faculty profile, read about the aforementioned Carnegie Endowment event or watch him discuss the book with The Wire.