India Versus China: Why They Are Not Friends

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  • January 2022
    Book Review

    ‘We have no eternal allies and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow’, thus spoke Lord Palmerston in 1848, then still the foreign minister of the United Kingdom.1 ‘Nations neither have enemies nor friends but only interests, the national interest’ is an aphorism which has been subsequently attributed from Winston Churchill to Henry Kissinger. The most basic course on International Relations’ theory anywhere does not fail to impart the lesson that the national interest drives the behaviour and determines the relationship of any country. Yet, we have Professor Kanti Bajpai, currently posted at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, musing in a book titled India Versus China: Why They Are Not Friends. Instead of being rigorous, Professor Bajpai gets a little playful and comes up with four Ps to explain the bitterness between India and China. These four Ps are their negative perceptions of each other, their difficulties on their perimeter (border), their competing partnerships with or against the United States and the Soviet Union (later Russia), and the increasing power asymmetry between them.