On a different note, I wanted to get your sense about something which is of critical importance. There is a school of thought that China will try to "cut India to size" or "teach India a lesson" within the next few years. Part of the reason is supposed to be due to internal compulsions forcing the CPC leadership to take drastic actions either to establish their nationalist credentials or to divert the attention of the masses or in one bizarre school of thought, to help fix the sex ratio, which is lop-sided in China thanks to the one-child policy (there is a precedence to that from Mao's time...).
What are you thoughts about something like that happening? Do you think that within China the war-mongers can garner enough support to wage wars? What are the circumstances which can drive power contenders to seek external military glory to bolster their own power base? Or do you feel that any force projection will be done via the proxytute (Pakistan), where the Chinese military itself will not be the face of the war.
I've actually seen a lot of Chinese talk about this topic here from time to time... but I can also understand why many of you are skeptical of what we have to say, since deep inside many of you suspect we're still some how employed or managed by the state to spread mis-information.
But from the bottom of my heart, I mean this: India is very, very low on the list of strategic rivals for China. That's not to say we aren't rivals... it wasn't all *that* long ago that we fought a border war, after all. But if you dropped in on any Chinese bulletin board or browsed any Chinese bookstore, or you flipped through PLA/military newspapers, you'd see this is absolutely the truth. If I were to rank China's rivals, in terms of who the Chinese public are most concerned about / ready to go to war over, it would probably look like:
top-tier: Taiwan / United States, Japan
second-tier: Vietnam, Russia
third-tier: Indonesia, Korea, and I guess India.
Look, the popular perspective is that India has done little wrong to China. Indians didn't invade China or occupy Chinese territory; India itself was a 'victim' of imperialism and colonialism, which remains the primary hot point for all Chinese. The war in 1962 was as much about the global political situation with the Soviet Union, as it was about India or Tibet. And besides even though Tibet remains an issue even today... the Dalai Lama has been in India for 50 years now, he hasn't been able to achieve much *from* India. I don't think it's an exaggeration to say the Dalai Lama's primary power-base is really in the US or Western Europe today. If India was actively promoting the Dalai Lama and/or the Tibet issue, then perhaps we Chinese would feel differently... but that hasn't happened. And the remaining border issues today are really unpopulated mountain ranges without any resources; there's really not that much for China and India to fight over. Think of it this way: how many wars did imperial China fight with imperial India (or whatever you want to call it) before the 20th century? That tells me even if our borders technically touch on a map, we aren't close enough to be natural rivals / enemies.
You can contrast that with the United States and Japan. Japan to us is like Pakistan to you... but I'd argue, far worse. Japan engaged in a genocidal war of conquest with China for over 60 years. And, in contrast to Nazi Germany, many Chinese feel Japan was never really punished for its excesses after WW2. Far too few Japanese war criminals, and the Japanese imperial system received a free pass. Imagine how the Israeli's would feel if Adolf Hitler was allowed to live on in "symbolic" retirement in Germany, after that war. But of course, Japan was too convenient as a military base and strategic ally to the Americans in the new cold war. And looking forward, Japan and China have huge issues to fight over in terms of energy resources in the East China Sea. The United States... we've fought one open war with the US, and our relations obviously remain hostile. Many in the US perceive China as a long-term threat, and treat it with hostility. And of course the issue with Taiwan is obvious, but fortunately we seem to be headed in the right direction.
On the second tier... Vietnam was a much more recent (and bloody) war than the Indian version. Historically, imperial China fought with imperial Vietnam on numerous occasions; we have a convenient land border. Vietnam is also just, generally speaking, much more hostile towards China. And Vietnam + China inevitably will have conflicts over resources in the South China Sea. Russia also had its imperial history, and responsible for "stealing" a lot of Chinese territory (including outer Mongolia) in the 19th-20th centuries. As the Soviet Union, the USSR and China were huge rivals... and for most of the past 50 years, most of China's military has been aimed directly at Russia. So, China is understandably weary about Russia, even though we seem to be on the same strategic page recently.
And in the last tier... Indonesia is also a rival in the South China Seas. And Indonesia has a nasty reputation for anti-Chinese sentiment, including purges + race riots that were widely reported in China. (None of that in India, right?) Korea not only shares a land border with China, but is also perceived as overly nationalistic... a sort of competitive cousin to China.
Now, China + India culturally are obviously very, very different people, so that does mean there isn't much mutual trust. It's very easy to turn on each other, or view each other with suspicion. I think most Chinese at heart feel like they understand (and therefore "like") Westerners better than they understand Indians, even if we anticipate another war (some day) with the West. (Keep in mind that a lot of which defines modern China, even Communism, has been imported directly from the West.)
Do I think China could turn hostile / nationalistic, especially in a moment of crisis? Absolutely. China is investing in its military for a reason. Do I think India is likely to be the target of that hostility? No, I truly do not.