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Book Review: “India-China Rivalry: Asymmetric No Longer – An Assessment of China’s Evolving Perceptions of India”

Book: India-China Rivalry: Asymmetric No Longer – An Assessment of China’s Evolving Perceptions of India
Writer: Abhay Kumar Singh
Publisher: KW Publishers Pvt Ltd, New Delhi, 2021. Hardcover,
ISBN: 978-9391490010,
228 pages, Price ₹980.

Abhay Kumar Singh’s “India-China Rivalry: Asymmetric No Longer” provides a comprehensive examination of the evolving dynamics in the strategic relationship between India and China. The very title suggests of its primary thesis: the rivalry between these two nations no longer being one-sided or asymmetric. Singh aims to reassess the perception that China views India as a secondary concern, presenting a thorough analysis of an inside look into the Chinese perspective and their outlook towards India. The book is pivotal in understanding the changing dynamics and the reasons behind the shifting perceptions in Sino-Indian relations.

The book’s central argument is that the traditional idea of an uneven rivalry between India and China has become outdated. According to Singh, modern-day India is seen as a major power in the Indo-Pacific region and global geopolitics by China. The book seeks to address the dearth of literature on Chinese views of India, which are often constrained by language and information barriers. It aims to help readers understand the reasons behind these perceptions by assessing the mental and emotional Image of India in Chinese minds. It dives deep into the evolving dynamics of India-China relations for the last 70 decades highlighting how the perception of China on India has changed throughout.

The author thoroughly explains how contemporary India has emerged as a major power in the Indo-Pacific region and on the global stage. With its growing economic strength and strong relations with countries like the USA, Japan and Australia, India is playing a significant role in establishing a balance of power in its rivalry with China. As a result, China is now taking India more seriously. The book argues that the conflict between the two nations is not an asymmetric warfare but an uninterrupted, ongoing struggle.

The book is structured into six chapters, each focusing on different aspects of the India-China rivalry and China’s evolving perception of India. The book sets the stage by recounting the historical context and recent events, such as the Galwan Valley clash, which underscore the complexity and volatility of India-China relations. It delves into China’s uncertain view of India, exploring persistent attitudes and shifting perceptions, rooted in the deep history and evolving over time. The book also examines Chinese perspectives on regional geopolitics and highlights the impact of India’s strategic moves and alliances. A significant portion is dedicated to analyzing Chinese perceptions of India during Narendra Modi’s tenure, highlighting India’s growing strategic position in global politics.  It then goes ahead to argue against the outdated concept of asymmetric warfare, presenting evidence that China China now regards India as a major strategic adversary. Finally, the book discusses potential future scenarios in the India-China rivalry while also providing comprehensive insights into various options for India, providing a comprehensive view considering evolving dynamics in this highly nuanced relationship.

One of the book’s strengths lies in its exploration of topics where assessment and research are scares, such as the need to reassess India-China relations as asymmetrical and the lack of Chinese perspectives on India. It enables readers to develop a deeper understanding of India-China relations, their policies toward each other and potential future scenarios that might come into play.

Moreover, the book’s strength lies in its effort to delve into the dynamics of the USA-India-China triangle, highlighting the significant role of the USA in India-China relations and in shaping the emerging Indo-Pacific landscape. The USA emerges as a major factor in helping India counter the notion of asymmetry and create a balance of power. However, this dynamic is viewed through the eyes of skepticism by China which sees the USA as imperialistic, with India being a tool for furthering US hegemony. Singh’s meticulous research, including insights from Chinese sources, offers a well-rounded understanding of the Sino-Indian dynamic.

The book lives up to its title as it effectively captures the constantly evolving dynamics between the two nations and the importance of reassessing our current perceptions while we gain insight into future possibilities in regional politics. The book prompts you to reconsider your views towards India-China relations, offering a nuanced understanding of this dynamic

The book however falls short in delving into the asymmetries in military, technological, and infrastructural capabilities between India and China. These differences are significant factors contributing to the present perception of asymmetry. a more detailed examination of these aspects would have helped the analysis. There is also a need for empirical data regarding the analysis of the military and economic capabilities of the two nations. The book could also be a bit dense for some readers who are not acquainted with the theoretical concepts of the International relations discipline.

Altogether Singh’s work excels in filling a critical gap in the Western and Indian as well as Chinese literature by providing an in-depth look at Chinese perceptions of India. It is a remarkable contribution in the field and answers many critical questions on the contemporary India-China dynamics and the need for reassessment of the traditional perspectives that are entrenched in the minds in the geopolitical arena providing a comprehensive understanding of the rivalry.

The Book is well-written and provides a clear, insightful analysis of the dynamic relationship between India and China. Singh’s argument that the rivalry is no longer asymmetric is convincingly presented throughout the book, and every chapter makes the argument stronger supported by substantial evidence and thorough research. The inclusion of detailed analyses of contemporary geopolitical issues such as the Galwan standoff or the pressing crises in the Indo-Pacific with the role of major powers like the USA, Japan, and Australia adds depth to the discussion.

The book is scholarly in research and is written in a way where it is of interest to not only academicians in international relations but also practitioners or anyone with an interest to understand in deep the dynamics of India-China relations and the perspective of China. The book is also highly relevant to the present scenario where we see the rise of India as a global power and a leading country in the Indo-Pacific region.

The book is a must-read as the insights are relevant for courses on international relations, Asian studies, and geopolitical strategy. The book is well formatted and priced at affordable rates. The book has a comprehensive index and handy extended bibliography making this book important for research.

In conclusion, Abhay Kumar Singh’s India-China Rivalry: Asymmetric No Longer is a significant contribution to the field, offering a nuanced understanding of a critical aspect of international relations with a focus on the Indo-Pacific dynamics. The Book provides a comprehensive view of Chinese perceptions of India and challenges outdated notions of asymmetric warfare, an essential read for those interested in the future of India-China relations and understanding the details of this vital bilateral relationship.

Reviewed by Sanika Godbole
RLA Research Intern

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