Scholars continue to debate whether and to what extent India appears on China’s ‘radar screen’,1 but China has loomed large for India since independence — not necessarily, however, in one avatar. Contemporary Indian strategic thinking on China is not monolithic. But, then, it never has been. As C. Raja Mohan has noted, even in the first two decades of independent India, while there might have been a dominant view of foreign policy, there was never a consensus view.2 This was especially true in the case of how Indians viewed the country’s largest neighbour and remains the case today. Depending on the lens through which the Indian observer peers, China appears in one of three avatars. This chapter explores

1 The term is in Stephen P. Cohen, India: Emerging Power (Washington DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2001), p. 26. Shirk has argued that India does not really feature high in China’s priorities. Susan L. Shirk, ‘One-Sided Rivalry: China’s Perceptions and Policies Towards India’, in Francine R. Frankel and Harry Hardling, eds, The India-China Relationship: What the United States Needs to Know (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004), p. 75. Tellis, on other hand, has argued, ‘Beijing has paid New Delhi more geostrategic attention than it has been willing to publicly admit’; in Ashley Tellis, ‘China and India in Asia’, in Frankel and Harding, eds, The IndiaChina Relationship, p. 140. Ganguly has compared the level of interest in Sumit Ganguly, ‘India and China: Border Issues, Domestic Integration, and International Security’, in Frankel and Harding, eds, The India-China Relationship, p. 104: ‘in Indian eyes the long-term Chinese threat is the most serious that India faces, for China the magnitude of the threat from India is relatively smaller’.