Why won’t China wholly break with its past?

There is a tension between the old and new in China, but more than in any other country, the Chinese reference their history constantly.

If China becomes economically all-powerful, what will happen to the world?

China won’t become more Western as it grows more powerful. Instead, the world will grow more Chinese. With economic power, China will expand its soft power abroad as well.

What’s China’s most vital interest?

One of the most important things for the Chinese is holding their country together. Each time they failed to, they suffered. They know it.

Even if their government makes an unfavourable decision, the people will support it?

For the Chinese, their state is intimate—like a family member. People accept the state’s authority in China in a way that they don’t in India.

Farther from India’s centre, it’s more chaotic.

In China, it’s found that people are unwilling to do something that’d undermine the centre. But support in the provinces and local government is still very high: 60 or 70 per cent.

How was your book received in India?

The book itself is favourable to China and India has a bit of a complex there, so it is probably read here because of that. Also, because of India’s rise, it too can relate to China’s rise.

Why a book on geopolitics and economy?

Going to Japan in 1993 blew my mind. Then, Singapore, Hong Kong…. I had a question, these places are so modern—are they Western?

How did your time in Asia change you?

I was forced to confront all kinds of questions about my country, race, colour etc that I have never before been obliged to answer.

What do the Chinese really think of Mao?

It’s complicated. There is huge veneration—more than of Deng Xiaoping, though this may sound contradictory.

Is China’s rise a good thing?

In a world shaped by a small minority, China’s rise is inevitable. It’ll happen anyway.

– Pragya Singh