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Understanding the Chinese Behemoth

Rukmani Gupta

Edited by M. Rasgotra
Academic Foundation, New Delhi, 2011-2012, pp. 720, Rs. 3275.00


Our large neighbour to the north, the People’s Republic of China, has been the subject of Indian scholarship for some time now. Much of this scholarship is focused on issues of traditional security, China’s strides in military modernization and the implications for India. This China Series is notable for its attempt to expand scholarship beyond the emphasis on the Chinese military threat. Divided into five volumes, each is a compendium of chapters on different topics. It clearly proposes to expand the scope of study by moving well beyond the paradigm of traditional-security challenges endeavouring a holistic study of China. The very first volume identifies two purposes for this undertaking: a) under-standing how and why China’s intentions and actions impinge on India’s national interests and b) to factor this assessment into working out a sensible relationship with China.   The first two volumes examine largely important domestic issues facing China. These include, among others, the problems of China’s minorities, safeguarding its periphery, increasing social stratification and maintaining the grasp of China’s Communist Party (CCP) over political and economic power. A picture of Chinese political and social life that is far from homogenous emerges, with differences having a direct impact on economic development and prospects. The first volume tells us that China faces restive minorities, that society is increasingly disenchanted with the CCP and there is limited opportunity for upward social mobility, the relationship between the Centre and the provinces is agent driven and focused on the utility of land as the source of revenue. The second volume focuses on the economic landscape. Two important challenges are identified in this realm for continued economic growth—stable and rational investment and raising domestic consumption. Inequalities—of investment and of the fruits of economic development—are seen to have implications for continued economic growth. A review of China’s prospects of food and energy security is undertaken which identifies problems that China will continue to face on these issues. Steps taken to foster scientific and techno-logical innovation are studied in detail and some comparisons are made with the Indian set up.   Two assessments of the bilateral economic relationship between India and China remain pessimistic about India’s ability to reduce the trade deficit since the pattern of growth in both countries is not expected to change significantly. On a more positive note, the prospect of a ‘trade-investment’ relationship replacing ...

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