SOURCE: TIMES NOW
Former foreign secretary and ambassador to China in 2016-2017, Vijay Gokhale was a young diplomat in Beijing in 1989, and an eyewitness to the Tiananmen incident and its fallout. In this extensive interview with Siddhartha Talya, he discusses his book Tiananmen Square: The Making of a Protest, and the legacy the events of 1989 have left behind.
Siddhartha Talya: You write in the Preface that you did not want this book to be a mere recollection of events from 1989, but, in fact, provide readers a thorough understanding of the workings of the Chinese Communist Party. What are some of the Indian misunderstandings of the working of the Chinese Communist Party that you sought to address?
Vijay Gokhale: I always wanted to write this book, but I was doubtful about whether this was something the Indian reading public would want to read. It was a historical event and one which many younger Indians may not attach much importance to. So, what I did not want this book to be was a personal memoir because it would not really be an insight into China for someone who’s never been there or has only a limited interest. I decided to write something that would appeal to people below the age of 40, may never have been to China, and might want to know about it.
The question then was whether we focus only on those 60-odd days in the build-up to the incident, or a much longer period of several years, and if Indian readers bought this book they should ideally have a bit of a background. In the book, I try to address a few points that are important for the Indian public to understand. First, this was the decade in which China began its extraordinary journey which has made it the second-largest economy in the world today, and which might make it the largest economy in the world in this decade. It’s important to understand the considerations, both economic and political, that went behind this process. The intention was to show that China did not achieve success overnight. This was very hard work by a generation of Chinese, and secondly, both domestic and foreign policy played a role in that process. China, very cleverly, played the international community in order to get foreign capital, technology, and equipment, and, at the same time, it had to balance the domestic politics and the domestic economics to ensure it provided a conducive atmosphere for investors to come in and feel confident. That was the objective, and what we are seeing today as a Chinese miracle is not simply an authoritarian regime deciding that it is going to do something and then ruthlessly set about doing it. There was a certain amount of political work, consensus building, economic policy-making, and diplomacy that went behind this process.
We should not look upon the Chinese political system as a monolithic system. We are a democracy, and a very vibrant one, with many political parties, and a major role played by civil society, the media, and institutions like the Parliament and the judiciary. China’s political system is different. It’s a Communist government, a one-party system. But, within that party, there is discussion and debate that does take place on issues. Even though there are strongmen in Chinese politics – Mao was one, Deng was another, and now you also have Xi Jinping – it should not lead us to assume, either that they have a complete say in everything or that there are no weaknesses in the system. As the Tiananmen incident showed, within the party there are fissures and fractures which might come out into the open, and we should not be caught by surprise.
And, like the population of any other country, the youth in China, as in India, play an extraordinary role in shaping politics in different ways. In India, there are many avenues for younger people to do so, right from joining political parties to organizing the manner in which voting is done. In China, those avenues are not available, but that doesn’t mean the youth, particularly the students, don’t have a role in Chinese politics. It’s not as if they are completely repressed, or oppressed, and follow a single path. There are ways and means for them to express their views, and the Chinese leadership is extremely sensitive to what is being done and heard and said on campuses.
Finally, while this is a historical event, it has a contemporary reality because the same party rules China. It’s just that there’s a new generation of actors now. The stage is the same, the play is the same, and the audience is the same, the people of China.
Siddhartha Talya: The book has several references to reports in Chinese newspapers, like the People’s Daily, for instance, which the Chinese Communist Party used to send out its message, as a means of communicating its view to the public, as well as within the party when differences emerged. As far as the research into the book is concerned, apart from the fact that you were also an eyewitness, how did your proficiency in Mandarin help in accessing sources that have given this book a distinctive edge?
Vijay Gokhale: I had the advantage of having a ringside seat, so to speak. To my recollection, no other person from India has written about this period being, at least partially, an eyewitness. I’m not even sure if other books written in the West in particular were written from an eyewitness perspective. I know that some Chinese who were students then have written accounts, but those are a little more subjective or biased than mine, though I suppose all points of view are biased. When I was there, I did take notes, I have a good memory, so that helped.
But, as you very correctly pointed out, the Chinese media sources were very critical for my book because it is not just one medium for messaging, it is, in China, the main medium for messaging. In India, because of our democratic system, the messaging is done directly. Our leaders, whether they are from the ruling party or the opposition, engage the public directly, talk about their views, present their public policy, during elections and the period between two elections. The Chinese leader reacts in a different manner, and all its events are fully choreographed and stage-managed. The communication that is done there is through the written word and very rarely through the spoken word. So, what appears in the newspapers, is not only a message about what the government’s policy is, it also signals a shift in that policy and it is of importance to the Chinese because they have to adjust to a new reality that might be occurring. So, reading the Chinese press and the media was extremely important in writing this book and I was singularly fortunate to have served the Government of India where I was asked to study Chinese as my language. I had two years of Chinese language education.
Reading not only the media but also reading the big-character posters in Tiananmen Square and in the universities during the protests was extremely important, because anybody not knowing Chinese would have missed out on this. So, if we want to have a better understanding on China, we must not depend solely on Western scholarship. We also must have greater Indian scholarship, but that scholarship needs to be based on a first-hand reading of Chinese sources and not second-hand reading through the West, or any other country. Therefore, the study of the Chinese language for historians, political scientists, those interested in international relations, even for science and technology because China is a cutting-edge country in this regard, is critical.
Siddhartha Talya: Deng Xiaoping was the principal protagonist. You write of how he was purged by Mao during the Cultural Revolution, but then made a comeback, and how he was earlier opposed to the Great Leap Forward, but chose to remain quiet. He was an economic modernizer, but stern on matters of party unity and discipline. How did his approach play a role in shaping what happened in Tiananmen and thereafter?
Vijay Gokhale: Deng was a strong leader, but also controversial. There were two or three outstanding qualities he had. One was that he had courage of conviction. In other words, if he took a decision, he took it out of conviction and was prepared to stay the course and not abandon it as an opportunist. He had clarity of thought. He had very clear ideas about the economic policy that would be good for China, and the political direction for his country. Even though he faced difficulties during the Cultural Revolution, he was able to implement his ideas when he returned to power. He also had a capacity to be flexible. Throughout the 1980s, if it suited him to make a compromise with ideologically conservative, even reactionary, elements in the party, because he had a greater objective of pushing another major economic reform. To achieve that, he was willing to make that compromise. These were the reasons for his success.
And therefore, I say towards the end of the book that although Mao Zedong was the unifier of China, in that he brought China out of a period of confusion and civil war and established the People’s Republic of China as a single political entity, and one that was stable, the real modernizer is not Mao but Deng Xiaoping. It is this man’s vision that has led to this great prosperity, stability, and well being that the Chinese people are enjoying.
Siddhartha Talya: The two other key players in this episode are Hu Yaobang and Zhao Ziyang. Both were Deng’s proteges. It is Hu’s death that triggers the build-up to events in Tiananmen Square. How would you contrast both Hu and Zhao in terms of their approach to politics, and the question of more openness within the party? Both eventually rubbed Deng the wrong way, and paid the price.
Vijay Gokhale: They were two very different personalities, and they came from two different streams. Hu, essentially, was a political person and his unique selling point was that, after the Cultural Revolution ended, he was put in charge of rehabilitating Communist Party cadres, including the current President Xi Jinping’s father, who had been victimized then. He essentially came through the political route and Deng appointed him as General Secretary and hoped he would guide the party into the next generation. Zhao, essentially, was an economics person. He was adept at conceiving and implementing economic policy, whether it was agricultural reform or industrial reform, wherever he had been party secretary, in Sichuan, which is China’s largest and most populous province, and even Guangdong. His expertise was in economic reform, and Deng saw him as someone who could push his economic agenda, which is why he made him the Premier of the State Council.
Under Deng, there had been a separation of authority. He wanted the Prime Minister or the Premier of the State Council to focus on economic and social policy, and he wanted the General Secretary to focus on politics and ideology, and consolidating the Communist Party’s rule. Therefore, these two figures suited Deng. In Deng’s own mind, they were complementary to each other. But their personalities were very different. Hu, while a very astute politician, was someone who had risen from the ranks, and wanted to remake the system in what he felt was the right way after the mistakes of the Cultural Revolution. In that process, he began to tread on people’s toes because the other revolutionary leaders who had fought the Civil War, won political power for the Communist Party, then suffered through Mao’s period, felt now was the time to reap the benefits of the political system, with their children. This was something Hu was loathe to see. This was the friction point, and was exacerbated by the fact that Hu felt the party should not be such a closed system, and there should be some amount of open, political discussion and so on. However, Hu was not a democrat or a closet democrat. He was simply looking at a more open system, perhaps to avoid going back to a Cultural Revolution type of situation. But that was threatening to the party, and eventually he had to go.
Zhou was not a political liberal and subsequent efforts by the West to paint him as such would be misleading. He wanted power and saw the Tiananmen incident and the student protests as a means to gain it by posing as the champion of a more liberal, political thinking. He was hoping to use that thinking in the student community and the society at large to neutralize his political opponents. He was an opportunist.
But whether it was Deng, Hu, or Zhao, they were Communists, they believed in the absolute leadership of the Communist Party, and none of them countenanced a multi-party system or any weakening of the Communist Party’s hold over China.
Siddhartha Talya: Deng cracked the whip on both Hu and Zhao, because he felt they had crossed the line. You later also write about the paranoia within the Chinese Communist Party over the eventual disintegration of the Soviet Union, and how they felt bringing in Glasnost before Perestroika was a mistake. The Chinese Communist Party, as you write, preferred economic modernization and not any political openness. What was Deng’s Lakshman Rekha over how far one could go?
Vijay Gokhale: We must be clear that right from the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, the leadership believed that it is the ultimate objective of the United States to effect regime change in China. In a speech in the 1950s, the then Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, who was one of the authors of the Cold War, spoke about how the United States should adopt a policy of ‘peaceful evolution,’ in order to subvert Communist regimes. These are key words in the Chinese Communist Party’s lexicon, as code words for regime change. Whether it was Mao, or any of Mao’s successors until today, the belief that the United States’ eventual intention is to effect regime change in China has not changed. So, long before the Tiananmen incident occurred, there was a strongly held belief that any dilution of the Communist Party’s control would allow the Americans and the West in general to effect a regime change.
When the Tiananmen incident started, that sense of concern became more palpable. In 1987 itself, when Hu Yaobang had to be removed because of student movements, the Western support for the so-called “democratic movements” or “democratic sentiment” in China had raised the red flags for the Chinese. So, they expected, and anticipated perhaps, that in 1989, the West might be more prepared to intervene. We don’t know what sort of intervention did or did not take place. So far, no documents on either side on this particular aspect have been declassified. But the Chinese certainly believed then, and continue to do so to this day, that the Tiananmen incident of 1989 had a ‘foreign hand’, an American hand, and that the Americans were behind the movement in some form. Perhaps they may have had information or intelligence on this, that there may have been an attempt at regime change therefore it was, in their view, absolutely essential to crack down on it.
Remember that nobody knew the Cold War was going to end six months later. The Berlin Wall came down the same year in November. In the Chinese mind, there was already the feeling that since the United States may not be able to bring down the real giant, which was the Soviet Union, they might be looking at a soft, second option, which was China. There was a certain level of anxiety. Any dilution of the party’s control is equivalent in their mind to the possibility of regime change, and that continues till today. Mikhail Gorbachev’s effort to bring in political reform, Glasnost, before economic reform, which is Perestroika, therefore also evoked concern.
Siddhartha Talya: This apprehension was also evident when the American Ambassador to China at the time was hosting Fang Lizhi, a dissident, something that the Chinese Communist Party did not take well to. Did the US believe that entertaining dissidents could influence politics in the direction of regime change? Did this also play into how the Western press depicted the protests at Tiananmen as a popular movement for democracy?
Vijay Gokhale: No, I don’t think so. I don’t think the West believes that they use human rights with any expectation that it will help in regime change. They use human rights – and part of that is to contact dissidents – as a pressure point, particularly at key times in the relationship when the West is looking for something in return. Therefore, their inviting Fang Lizhi to President George HW Bush’s reception was one of those instances where they felt they could use human rights to bring political pressure. We must also remember that 1989 was different from 2021 in that the power differential between the United States and China was much greater, and they would tend to show that power differential by inviting the likes of Fang Lizhi. If they were to try that today, the Chinese would probably not allow the plane of the President of the United States to land in Beijing because the power differential has totally changed. From my own experience in seeing how the West dealt with China, the West takes the power differential into its calculus in calibrating the raising of human rights with other countries across the world. That was one of the lessons I took away. I was naïve in university in believing that human rights are universal, and that the West, in a sense, upholds it. The Tiananmen incident was an education for me in realpolitik and in recognizing how human rights are used by the West as a pressure point, rather than as an ideal or an objective which is by itself something that they should strive for.
Siddhartha Talya: Hu Yaobang dies, and that is a trigger for the protests to gradually begin. Why is it that students from across universities, intellectuals among others, all begin to congregate at Tiananmen? You write that the demands the students made initially were to do with jobs, the economy in urban centres was in a bad shape, there were food shortages too, and to some extent there was also a call for greater personal freedoms. But if this was not a popular movement for a transition to democracy, why were the protests as massive as they were?
Vijay Gokhale: As you point out, the underlying cause was economic distress. There was an overlay of sympathy, and empathy, because of what had happened in 1987 where Hu Yaobang had to step down as General Secretary after the party cracked down on what were student protests at that time. There was a certain empathetic response, that a person who understood the students, their need for jobs and income and stability, had passed on. The Chinese people are, like us, emotional people, and this was a means of showing respect. Tiananmen Square is the central point at which all gatherings take place, and that is a venue where all the great parades and campaigns have also been conducted, and the students marched there and laid wreaths.
As I point out in the book, the real mistake, perhaps, was the hardline editorial that the People’s Daily brought out on April 26, 1989, by calling the movement a counter-revolutionary rebellion. They were effectively saying that the students were anti-national. In any country, whether democratic or autocratic, students carry nationalism on their sleeve. For them to be called anti-national was something that hurt them deeply and that is what brought the second phase, and in my sense the destructive phase for the Communist Party, the crisis phase.
Siddhartha Talya: The editorial had Deng’s stamp all over it, as he was pretty much at the helm of affairs.
Vijay Gokhale: Yes.
Siddhartha Talya: You also mention that the editorial in People’s Daily had used the word “turmoil”. What did that connote in the context of the situation in China at the time, and why was it opposed so vehemently by protestors?
Vijay Gokhale: The Chinese characters for the word ‘turmoil’ would translate more properly to ‘chaos.’ For Chinese civilization and society, descending into chaos is extremely concerning and worrisome. In this particular case, it was not just a theoretical prospect, but a very large part of the Chinese population had very recent memories of descending into chaos during the Cultural Revolution. Therefore, there were certain implications of that word. The choice of that word was therefore likely to evoke this sort of response in students, because the students were being accused not only of being anti-party or anti-national but also pulling China back into an era where no Chinese ever wanted to go back. It’s a very powerful word in the context in which it was used. The students and the rest of the reading public precisely understood its meaning, which is why I did point out in the book that those diplomatic missions and journalists who were serious in following China realized that this was a qualitatively different situation post April 26, 1989.
Siddhartha Talya: The word ‘turmoil’ resurfaces when Zhao Ziyang is addressing Finance Ministers from different countries (this also includes SB Chavan from India), where he says something to the effect that “there won’t be turmoil,” and this is interpreted by the Chinese Communist Party as Zhao crossing the line in terms of showing leniency towards protestors. In another incident, Jiang Zemin, who would go on to succeed Zhao as General Secretary, emerges on the scene by cracking down on dissent in Shanghai.
Vijay Gokhale: Jiang Zemin’s actions only subsequently resonated with the leadership. Once the movement descended into a chaotic situation, the way in which Jiang Zemin dealt with Shanghai, which is the other major metropolis in China, where there was less disruption, and the firmness with which he handled the situation, became an attractive alternative for the party as opposed to the manner in which matters were handled in Beijing. For the way things turned out in Beijing, the party not only blamed Zhao Ziyang, but also Li Peng, the Premier, because his high-handedness to some extent had led to this. Therefore, when they were selecting the next leader, while everyone was united in not retaining Zhao, Deng was also clear in his mind that Li Peng would not succeed him even though he was the next highest-ranking member of the Politburo’s Standing Committee. Others probably also supported Deng in this. That is where Jiang Zemin, in a post facto sense, became the alternative. I don’t believe that in any other situation, they would have picked Jiang Zemin for the job.
Siddhartha Talya: When we come to the actual crackdown, with the imposition of martial law in the country, there’s a divergence of perspectives on what exactly transpired, what the magnitude of the casualties were…
Vijay Gokhale: Frankly, none of us really know what the magnitude of the casualties were. The Chinese have not put out any official figures and the West would simply go on estimates of people, for instance, telling them that they have lost their loved ones. That does not indicate to you whether the loved one who has been lost was because they were innocent bystanders hit by a bullet, or whether this was after they were stoning or lynching security forces. Both possibilities are there. The number of people who died is anybody’s guess. My main point to was to emphasise that we should be objective in looking at what happened.
At that time, there were some prominent student leaders in the square. They themselves have said that a vast majority of students had already returned on June 3, when they understood that the PLA this time meant business. Among the few that remained, most of them exited the square somewhat orderly and returned to campuses. Therefore, when the PLA entered the square on the early morning of June 4th, the likelihood, and I want to stress the word likelihood – because I have no certain view – is that there was nobody or there were very few students in the square. Therefore, the assertion that there were a large number of students who were mowed down by the PLA, in my opinion, is not factually supported by currently available evidence. That does not mean that there were no shootings and killings outside the square. I have no doubt that in some cases the security forces would have fired on students, or on other elements who might have tried to protest, but there are also cases where security forces were attacked on duty. There are instances when they were driving through crowded areas without intimidating the crowd, but the crowd used violent means to stop, lynch, or punish the security forces. In any country, whether democratic or autocratic, when security forces are attacked on duty, that security force is likely to respond with counter-force.
Western accounts of the time did not really project a balanced perspective, and therefore a balanced perspective based on more current evidence available of that time suggest that there were multiple casualties, but not because of PLA action inside the square. And, the casualties may have been both because authorities wanted to control the crowds and the crowds may have also attacked the security forces.
Siddhartha Talya: You also write about how, in the aftermath of the Tiananmen incident, it wasn’t very long before relations between United States and China, or Japan and China, began to normalize, because each had a strong incentive to continue economic ties with China. What was the Indian position? Rajiv Gandhi as Prime Minister had visited Beijing a year earlier, the first such visit after the 1962 War. Were we reluctant to criticize China because we had begun to normalize relations with them just a year before Tiananmen?
Vijay Gokhale: I was a relatively junior officer at that time, and I can’t speak to what the considerations in New Delhi were. My understanding is that it was not the government of India’s policy at the time to comment on the internal affairs of other countries. The Foreign Ministry spokesperson, at any rate, did not put out any official comments on the situation inside China, except in as much as we did express concern for the security of Indian nationals, who were there as students, teachers, or visitors, and we hoped that their repatriation would be facilitated, and the Chinese did facilitate that. It was the Indian Embassy’s responsibility as well.
On a larger plane, of course, as you correctly said, after 34 years an Indian Prime Minister had concluded his visit to Beijing less than six months before Tiananmen occurred. It was a fundamental shift in Indian diplomacy, and presumably in Chinese diplomacy as well. This was a time when a number of agreements had been reached, understandings had been reached, and discussion was to begin on a number of issues including the boundary question, resumption of trade, the Kailash Manasarovar yatra, and so on. Therefore, understandably in New Delhi, there must have been concern as to what any political change in China, not necessarily the overthrow of the Communist Party but even a change in the Premier or General Secretary, would mean for India-China relations? Would we have to begin all over again? Would our leadership have to re-establish new equations again? That was really the consideration. We had made a lot of effort to bring India-China relations back to a track which we felt was important for our national security and well being, and we needed to keep that relationship on track. Our concern was that it may go off track, so our whole approach was guided by that. It wasn’t guided by anything related to China’s internal affairs.
Siddhartha Talya: You write about Deng’s approach, of keeping a low profile, biding one’s time, and not claiming leadership. How has this approach shaped China’s strategy from 1989 onwards, and how successfully has it followed this approach since, in ways that it has managed to also deceive the West? You talk about how the West became so accommodating that it was willing to push for China’s entry into the WTO, among other concessions. How has China played that game to its advantage, to the extent that it is now able to be more assertive?
Vijay Gokhale: I would describe Deng’s policy as masterful. Here was a leader who realized that the ultimate American goal was regime change, and that was the long-term problem that China would deal with. But, he also realized that the short-term problem that had to be dealt with immediately, was the economy, because a weak China in any case would not be able to resist external pressure for any length of time. When the Soviet Union fell six months later, that only reinforced Deng’s view that China had to be internally strong, economically. Remember, the Soviet Union collapsed under its economic contradictions, not because the West pushed it. Deng decided he would offer the West whatever opportunities the West needed for its economic prosperity, in order to grow its own prosperity. That is why China opened its borders to Western capital, technology, and equipment in a significant manner. In doing so, the West enjoyed unparalleled prosperity for 20 years. The Clinton administration’s economic policy was probably the most successful American economic policy after Franklin Roosevelt. Even Europe enjoyed unparalleled economic success.
What they did not recognize was that all this while, China was also utilizing this opportunity to train its workforce, to train its scientists, and to gain access to Western technology and education in order to benefit. Here, of course, what was going on was reverse engineering. The mistake, in my opinion, was the belief in the West that the technological gap was so great, and the West was so advanced, that it would take a few generations to catch up. They made a mistake that the rest of the world also made about China. For 30 years, China was looked upon as a bunch of communists who wore blue and gray clothes, never travelled abroad, and were backward. They forgot first that China, like India, for 2000 years, had been a great civilization, with an enormous amount of creativity. The world also forgot that many of these communist leaders had studied abroad – Deng had studied in France. They knew what the West was, they had a feel of the West.
The Chinese also realized that they could make up the gap, not through domestic innovation but by leapfrogging. So, by inviting foreign investment, they could do that leapfrogging, much easier than sending thousands of Chinese students to the United States or funding local scientists to innovate. Once they had made that leap, their investments in research and education were of a much greater magnitude than ours. It helped to just multiply their educational and research capabilities to the point that they are now a true challenger to the United States.
By the time the Americans and the West woke up to this, it was too late. You were too tied into the Chinese system to be able to just cut it off, because you would be cutting off your nose to spite your face. Theoretically, say, Volkswagen or Boeing were to withdraw from China, their own production lines would be seriously disrupted. Many of Boeing’s parts, the wings for instance, or the cockpit, were being made in China. Volkswagen’s largest production facilities are in China. The shareholders would not accept a withdrawal, and the larger American or German prosperity would be affected. It became a Hobson’s choice then: do you cut your nose to spite your face or do you eventually allow the Chinese to overtake you?
Siddhartha Talya: When we look at the current Chinese leadership, what are the similarities between Xi Jinping in his approach to politics, and foreign policy with India or the United States, and Deng?
Vijay Gokhale: Domestically, their approach has been more or less similar, which is how do you main the absolute dominance of the Communist Party over China. The methods have changed to some extent, but that is only to be expected because politics has evolved, society has evolved, and the economic situation has also changed. On foreign policy, however, I believe there has been a fundamental shift. I dwell on this in detail in a paper that I wrote for Carnegie India in March this year, where I said that Xi’s policy had fundamentally shifted to a more aggressive foreign policy because it now has the means to do so, economically, militarily, and diplomatically. Of course, this has major implications for us. What has to be studied is whether the implications are the same for us, as the West. I haven’t gone into this in too much detail, I will be doing so as part of my future work.
I think there is a fundamental difference. For China versus the West, it is a zero-sum game, to the extent that China benefits in terms of economic or real diplomatic power, if the West’s share comes down. In our case, we are not in a zero-sum game with the Chinese. We are also in a zero-sum game with the West. If we grow economically, or become more powerful or influential diplomatically, it’s at a cost to the West, so we are rising along with China. It’s just that at this point, China is rising faster. Our relationship, therefore, with China has to be structured differently from that of the West. We are also benefiting, in a way, the same way that the Chinese are, from a decline in the West. On the other hand, to the extent that we allow the gap between us and China to widen – it’s already four times economically and militarily – the worse it will be for us. How this pans out is worth studying, and it will unfold in the next five or ten years.
Siddhartha Talya: Does India have enough Sinologists, given that we need to understand that country better for our own benefit? Not just from the perspective of the Ministry of External Affairs, but also by way of introducing courses in universities, or having more faculty or academics with a strong understanding of China.
Vijay Gokhale: This is going to be, not just our largest neighbour forever, but it’s probably going to be the most important relationship we will have in this century, perhaps even more important than the Indo-US relationship. So, the more people who study about the different aspects of China, not just politics and economics, but science and technology, its maritime plans, its culture, the better it is for us. I believe there is some very good scholarship available, even among the younger generation now among people below 45 in India. The weakness is not so much in the scholarship as in the institutional mechanisms. In other words, how do we fit the scholarship with the policy-making process? And how do we ensure that the policy-making process actually learns from the scholarship being produced? It is entirely possible that you may have brilliant scholars, but what they write and say may simply not be audible to the policy-making system. That is where the major lacuna lies in India today. One reason I wrote this book is because I feel we need an Indian perspective on what is happening in China or on India-China relations. Too often, we rely on the West, or even Chinese sources. We should be relying on our own writings too.