June 20, 2007

India and China fight over... Buddhism

This from the Times of India:

India and China are engaged in a competition for soft power supremacy in Asia - the battlefield is ownership of one of the world's oldest religions, Buddhism.

Well, we all know China and India aren't really fighting over Buddhism. Neither country really cares about that. What's at stake is being Asia's economic top dog, and no religion is as pan-Asian as Buddhism. The article isn't really interesting or illuminating, but it does talk a bit about Luoyang, home of maybe the oldest Buddhist temple in China.

mapbuddhism1.gifIt also brings to mind this map, at right (from here.) I like weird and oversimplified maps like these. Oversimplified maps help us learn things. It's like in Geography class as a kid. You don't want the map of your neighborhood to have every tree and fire hydrant on it. That doesn't help you find your way to the store. What I mean is, details don't always help. I also like maps with big bright colors. If you like strange maps too, check this site out.

Finally, Tibet Connection is an English-language radio show with news about Tibet. It's only on every other week, I think, but you can stream the show from the website of KPFK (Los Angeles, 90.7 FM).

- Philip Ryan, Webmaster

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oliviajane's picture

The China-India rivalry has not garnered the same attention as the China-Japan rivalry because their disputed Himalayan border—the longest disputed border in the world—has been virtually free of violence since the first major conflict in their history, the 1962 border war. Compared with the volatile confrontations playing out in the East and South China Seas, the de facto China-India border, the Line of Actual Control (LAC), has been relatively tame. It’s also because since the 1980s, Beijing and Delhi have crafted a durable framework to manage their border dispute and cooperate in areas of mutual interest within the confines of a cold peace.

Today China and India are more politically and economically engaged than at any time in recent history. Bilateral trade expanded sixty-seven-fold from 1998 to 2012, and the Chinese and Indian armies held their first-ever joint military exercise in 2007, followed by two more in 2008 and 2013. They have periodically found common agendas on global issues of mutual interest like world trade talks, climate-change negotiations, the primacy of state sovereignty, and the need to reform global-governance institutions.

Most important, both capitals have shown a commitment to mitigating recurring tensions in the relationship. When crises do arise—as was the case when a Chinese border patrol intruded across the LAC for three weeks in April 2013—they’ve responded with calm and patience to dissolve the crisis diplomatically. At the government-to-government level relations are, in a word, civil.

However, cooperation and competition coexist in this relationship, advancing in tandem on parallel tracks. And while the cooperative track has been accelerating since the turn of the century, the strategic competition has kept pace, and in some arenas advanced faster. The phenomenon should be familiar to Washington. U.S.-Chinese relations operate in a similar framework: deeper integration in the diplomatic and economic sphere accompanied by growing strategic mistrust in the security arena.

Perhaps the key feature of the China-India rivalry is that while it is felt and sustained by both parties, it is in many ways one-sided. China’s “comprehensive national power” exceeds India’s by such a wide margin. China’s economy was over four times the size of India’s in 2012, and over eight times the size when adjusting for purchasing-power parity (PPP). China’s official military budget of $119 billion in 2013 was over three times larger than India’s $38 billion defense budget. India more than twice China’s poverty rate (29.8 percent vs. 13.4 percent) and only two-thirds its literacy rate (62 percent vs. 95 percent).

If India can leverage favorable demographics it will be in a position to close the strategic gap with China by midcentury. In 2012 India’s working-age population grew by twelve million while China’s shrank by over three million. A June 2013 UN report on world population prospects predicts India’s population will surpass China’s by 2028.
Best wishes,
Olivia Jane, Editor, paid to click

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