The India-China Connection

There is an obsession in the West that India, since it is labeled a democracy, is the country to counter China’s economic and military growth in Asia.

The thinking has been, “If the United States and India can together rediscover and revive the Indian military’s expeditionary tradition, they will have a solid basis for strategic cooperation not only between themselves but also with the rest of the world’s democracies.” For instance, in A Himalayan rivalry, The Economist focused on the 1962 conflict between India and China saying, “Memoires of a war between India and China are still vivid in the Tawang valley.”

But memoires aren’t everything. There is also knowledge, economics and culture, and, compared to India, China is not the same country it was in 1962, because unlike India, China’s one party political system allows for quick decisions that often benefit the country and the people.

Another important factor to remember is that China is a collectivist culture just like India, and according to “Culture influences behavior.”

​“Collectivism is the political theory that people should be interdependent on others and all conform to the same ideas and worship the goals of group than that of the individual. It’s a broad term that expands to many different topics and politics. Collectivists believe in order to form the more common good that the people should be united as a whole live their lives for the community, nation, or society.”  – Science Leadership Academy

Due to these facts, China and India have more in common than India and the United States.

Another factor is that China and India both have ancient civilizations more than 5,000 years old, and they are next-door neighbors that are also linked by economics—both are members of BRIC: Brazil, Russia, India and China.

The Institute of Development Studies says, “Globally and politically, the influence of the BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China, and since 2011, South Africa – is rapidly increasing. They have been engaged in official and non-official development cooperation for decades, but their role as development actors has only recently been acknowledged by the development community.”


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

#1 - Joanna Daneman review posted June 19 2014

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24 Responses to The India-China Connection

  1. mukul chand says:

    Great Post. Though many things in common, the people are like Night and Day. Extremely different.

    • I have a friend, Tom Carter, the author of China: Portrait of a People, who has spent considerable time in India and even more time in China, and he says that each province in India is like another country—compared to China where the majority of people are of one ethnicity, Han Chinese.

      • mukul chand says:

        Interesting part. India is diverse even for an Indian travelling to a different region will reveal new customs and maybe a language too. I have been only to large cities in China and thus my experience is limited.

      • Tom Carter spent two years backpacking through every province in China — logging over 56,000 kilometers — photographing the China few get to see.

        Tom also wanted to do the same thing in India, but he had to give up before visiting half of India. He said it was too difficult due to VISA restrictions and traveling from one province to another. He said it was easier to get around in China—even sneaking into areas that were off limits to foreigners. He even walked to Tibet and almost died in a blizzard along the way, but a Tibetan woman much smaller then him found him in the snow unconscious and she took off her blanket and wrapped him in it and then hoisted him onto her back and carried him to her hut where her family, that was poor, nursed him back to health.

      • mukul chand says:

        Thank you for the link. Sounds interesting. There are however no restrictions going from one province to another .

      • Tom said that he and his Chinese fiance was often stuck in crawling traffic when crossing the borders of one India province to another and it felt like leaving one country and entering another.

      • mukul chand says:

        Partially correct. There are tax barriers, which will come done as new laws having one tax rule kick in. Why he did not go by train or air instead of giving up is a mystery.

      • He was on a tight budget. He isn’t wealthy. Most of his trek in China was on foot—walking.

      • mukul chand says:

        Trains are cheap in India. On foot he would encounter no tax barriers.

      • I think he likes to walk. Before China, he trekked through other countries.

      • mukul chand says:

        I will surely read his works, so thoughtfully highlighted by you. Will need to thresh out fact from poetic fantasy as well.

      • One of the difficulties Tom ran into was his future wife’s Visa. They are married now and have a son. She was and still is a Chinese citizen and Tom said her Indian Visa had a very limited time period that allowed her to stay legally in India. For that reason, Tom and Hanna had to return to China and submit another request to renew her Visa for another limited time period and this was costly and time consuming. That was several years ago and maybe that restriction has changed. But now that they are married and have a child, Tom’s freedom to travel is also restricted. Don’t know if he will have the freedom and money to finish his book on India. He was going to call it, India: Portrait of a People. similar to his book on China.

      • mukul chand says:

        wish him well. visas are usually bilateral courtesies. Depends on the Passport he was holding and what visa facilities that Country provides to Indians.

      • His effort to visit all the provinces of India like he did in China ended years ago and he’s moved into middle age. Marriage has also settled him down and he has a more reliable and steady job that he might lose if he returned to his life of trekking through the countries of the world like he did through most of his youth after college. I think he said he graduated with a degree in political science and was even active in Republican Party for one election. Something he expericned in that election turned him off on politics and that was when he hit the road and traveled to Mexico, Central and South America for several years on foot before he landed in China where he still lives with his Chinese wife. He has never said what it was that happened when he was a volunteer during one of America’s elections that turned him off to politics.

      • mukul chand says:

        Wish him all the best in his life.

      • Tom’s book, China: Portrait of a People, is mostly photos and some text that is about his adventures in different parts of China while taking the 60,000+ photos during his two years on the road to visit every province. He avoided expensive hotels and mostly stayed in hostels with barracks like lodgings.

      • mukul chand says:

        Trust it has been received well in China .

      • Tom’s photo book of China was published by a Hong Kong publisher. It didn’t make him wealthy. I think it did eventually sell out its first limited printing.

      • mukul chand says:

        did it go onto a second reprint.

      • I think the book is still in print.I just checked and Amazon in the U.S. still offers it for sale.

        Tom was not happy with the final product. He was promised a usual coffee table sized photo book, and the publisher changed the format into more of a very large brick without telling him.

        6.3 x 6.1 instead of 12.4 x 12.4

      • mukul chand says:

        publishers and their ways

      • I urged Tom to go independent and get rid of his publisher but no. He would rather be traditionally published even if he isn’t always paid on time every few months.

  2. Gautam Varma says:

    Very true, relations between china and India are imperative for the future of both. Wounds will have to heal for the sake of Socioeconomic development.

    • I wonder if there are any wounds in India that are focused on what the British Empire did to India during that long occupation 1858 – 1947 after the Great Uprising of 1857, in addition to the rule of the East India Company from 1757 to 1858 that caused the Great Uprising.

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