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Comparing India and China as great powers

  • 08 Feb 2017

    Prof. Michael Yahuda

    Venue: ICS Seminar Room
    Time: 2:30 PM


The United States remains the sole superpower with a global reach in all the dimensions of power, but it is constrained in the exercise of that power. China is often depicted as a superpower too which in my view wrong. Its hard power (military and economic) is felt primarily by its immediate neigbours and not much beyond that. It has virtually no soft power (i.e., the power to attract others). It currently faces huge problems as its government recognizes the need to transform the economy from primarily an investment and export led manufacturing one to a more consumer led economy, while seeking to maintain Communist Party controls. India’s economy is not as large as China’s nor is its military power as great. But India too is by far the greatest power in its own neighborhood of the resident states of the Indian Ocean and it too has significant economic influence in many parts of the world. Moreover, unlike China, India has claims to enjoy a significant degree of soft power. However, there have been significant differences in their relations with the United States. China has received much more attention by American governments even though relations are more fraught. From an American perspective relations with China combine both areas of cooperation and of competition or rivalry, but those with India are basically cooperative, despite some differences of interest. As for Sino-Indian relations, although Chinese tend to think their country is superior to India, they have come to accept it as a major country with which they have both cooperative and competitive relations.

About the Speaker

Michael Yahuda is a Professor Emeritus of International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science, University of London, where he served from 1973 to 2003. His main fields of interest are China's politics, foreign policy and the international relations of the Asia Pacific. He has published nine books and more than 200 articles and chapters in books. The third revised edition of his book, The International Politics of the Asia Pacific since 1945, will be published at the end of 2010. The latest, Sino-Japanese Relations Since the End of the Cold War: Two Tigers Sharing a Mountain (2013).

He has been associated with various institutions across the world including Sigur Center for Asian Studies, the Elliott School, George Washington University, Woodrow Wilson International in Washington DC, Australian National University, University of Adelaide (South Australia), University of Michigan and the Fairbank Center for East Asian Studies, Harvard. More recently, he was a Visiting Senior Fellow at the Singaporean Institute for South East Asian Studies, and a Visiting Professor for the Fall Term 2007 at China's Foreign Affairs University. He has acted as an adviser to the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office and as a consultant to organizations in London and Singapore. 



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