‘The Chinese think India is a Buddhist country’

China dominates the Indian discourse in ways seen and unseen. We are in awe of the speed and scale of its reforms. We wonder about the efficacy of its dictatorship and compare notes with the limitations of our democracy. But how does the aam admi there view us?

Pallavi Aiyar has been The Hindu‘s Beijing correspondent for four years now, and is out with a book Smoke and Mirrors (HarperCollins India). In an interview with Krishnakumar P. of rediff.com and India Abroad, she answers the all-important question, showing how little they know of us as we of them.

How does the comman man in China see India?

“There is far more interest here in India about China than the other way round. For the common man there, there are two very strong sources when it comes to India: religion and movies.

“They see India as this very spiritual place, just like the westerners, but in a different way. Since Buddhism originated here in india, they still see India as a predominantly Buddhist country. Most people were surprised to learn that I am a Hindu. They think the whole of India practises Buddhism.

“They also know a lot abot Indian movies, especially of the 1950s and then the late 1970s, after the Cultural Revolution…. The younger crowd has a lot of awareness about India, mostly due to the information and technology boom. Then, there are the policy circles where India is seen as a country with potential, but not a threat to China.”

Read The Hindu review here: China through a smoky lens

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