TALK "Is a China-centric World Order Inevitable?" by Shri Shyam Saran at Main Building, India International Centre (IIC), Lodhi Estate > 6pm on 20th July 2017

Shyam Saran
Shyam Saran
Time : 6:00 pm Add to Calendar 20/07/2017 18:00 20/07/2017 19:30 Asia/Kolkata TALK "Is a China-centric World Order Inevitable?" by Shri Shyam Saran Event Page : Seminar Rooms II & III, Kamaladevi Complex, Main Building, India International Centre (IIC), 40 Max Mueller Marg, Lodhi Estate, New Delhi-110003 DD/MM/YYYY

Entry : Free (Seating on First-Come First-Served Basis)
Note : Call 011-24619431 (IIC) to re-confirm any last minute change or cancellation of the event.

Venue : Seminar Rooms II & III, Kamaladevi Complex, Main Building, India International Centre (IIC), 40 Max Mueller Marg, Lodhi Estate, New Delhi-110003

Venue Info : Events | About | Map | Nearest Metro Stations - 'Khan Market(Vilolet Line)' & 'Jor Bagh(Yellow Line)'
Area : Lodhi Road Area Events

Event Description : TALK "Is a China-centric World Order Inevitable?" As part of 'IIC-ICS LECTURES' Series. 

Speaker: Shri Shyam Saran, former Foreign Secretary and Chairman, National Security Advisory Board; currently Senior Fellow, Centre for Policy Research and Life Trustee, IIC

Our world is at an inflexion point. The old and familiar world order is passing but the emerging order is both fluid and uncertain. As China continues to expand its economic and military capabilities, and projects a global leadership role, is a China-centric world order an inevitability? Or is it more likely that we shall witness the evolution of a multi-polar order with an altered set of norms and rules of the game anchored in new or modified institutions of global governance? What would be India's preference and its role in shaping a new order?

First lecture in a new series organised in collaboration with the Institute of Chinese Studies

Chair: Shri Ashok K. Kantha, Director, Institute of Chinese Studies

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TALK "Is a China-centric World Order Inevitable?" by Shri Shyam Saran at Main Building, India International Centre (IIC), Lodhi Estate > 6pm on 20th July 2017 TALK "Is a China-centric World Order Inevitable?" by Shri Shyam Saran at Main Building, India International Centre (IIC), Lodhi Estate > 6pm on 20th July 2017 Reviewed by DelhiEvents on Thursday, July 20, 2017 Rating: 5


  1. It is seriously sad to see a person in high office having to resort to lies to bolster his claims.

    His talk actually started very well, until he started talking about history.

    For one thing, Mr Saran would have difficulty even convincing Mongolians and Manchurians that they ruled China for 300 and 500 years respectively as he suggested. I don't think it would be possible to find any history textbooks in the world with such claims.

    He even made the incredible claim that Chinese hadn't ruled China since the 12th century!! The claim that Chinese only started ruling China since after the 20th century is seriously unimaginable coming from a scholar!

    As for cosmopolitanism, just about all respectable encyclopaedias of the world describe China during its Tang dynasty as one of the greatest (if not THE greatest) cosmopolitan centres of the world. Mr Saran's attempt to contradict the world's encyclopaedias is baffling!

    As for trading nation, China was the biggest trading nation in the world during both the Ming and the Qing dynasties, lasting for about 500 years of human history. And of course you don't need to be the biggest trading nation to be called a trading nation. To claim it never was a trading nation (at all) is completely absurd.

    It would do Mr Saran a lot of good to at least learn about history if he wants to talk about history.


    Here are some reference material regarding my comment :

    (1) Regarding cosmopolitanism in China :
    Lewis, Mark Edward (2012), China's Cosmopolitan Empire: The Tang Dynasty, Harvard University Press, ISBN 978-0-674-03306-1

    (2) Regarding China as a trading superpower during the imperial times :
    Maddison, Angus (2007) : "Contours of the World Economy, 1–2030 AD. Essays in Macro-Economic History", Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-922721-1

    (3) Regarding total period Mongolians and Manchurians ruled China :
    ( You can look at any encyclopaedia for that information. I am surprised that author didn't look.)

  2. I did graduate studies in Chinese and East Asia history. While Mr. Saran has some interesting points, it's also very obvious that he is not an expert with ancient East Asian history. Overall, it's complicated to make modern comparison to ancient foreign relationships because the world view was very different prior to the modern Westphalian system. For one, there was actually no country or empire officially named "China". What we called "China" today was largely a geopolitical concept meaning the central state of its known world (sort of like how we use the term “superpower”). The official names of the empires were the dynastic names. Ex: the Great Qing empire, the Great Ming, Great Yuan, etc. These dynastic empires on the East Asia continent often occupied the "China" or central geopolitical position because of its size, sophistication, resources and power projection. Some of these dynasties were ruled by the ethnic Hans while in some cases the nomadic tribes like the Mongols, Manchus, Qidan, Jurchen established dynasties. Some like the Tang was actually with mixed ethic Han and nomadic Xianbei origins. But regardless, they all saw themselves as the legitimate holder of the so called "mandate of heaven" and the rightful succession dynasty to occupy the "China" or central geopolitical position. The ability and willingness of these dynasties to project power fluctuated within each dynasty and the ambition of the imperial court. Every dynasty went through peak and trough in relative powers. During periods of strength, the nomadic frontiers were subjugated into the empire as direct protectorates. While during times of weakness, the imperial count was not able to control the nomadic frontiers and had to appease the nomadic powers usually with political marriage. In some cases, the nomadic powers were even able to take over the empire by establishing dynasties. This was a constant pattern and really more of an intrastate relationship as the core factor behind all these dynastic empires was the codependency between the nomadic and sedentary backdrop. Whereas relationships with states (such as Korea, Vietnam, Ryukyu, at varying times Japan, kingdoms in Central, Southeast and parts of South Asia) that were not directly under the imperial count were vassals and tributaries relations (there were differences with these categories as well and generally benefited both parties). Basically “China” was not based on ethnicity or modern notion of nationality; it was purely a geopolitical concept. That is why all the dynastic empires regardless those led by the Hans, Mongols, Manchus, etc all referred to their dynasty as “China”. In fact, the Japanese and Vietnamese wanted to use the term “China” to refer to their own state during the decline of the late Qing period. This is a basic description of how the geopolitical system worked in much of East Asia and parts of Central Asia prior to the 19th century (it was relatively "East Asia continent" centric) which is very different with how the modern world works. What we called South Asia today was relatively isolated from East Asia (effectively a different world) and it was also constrained by geography that made it relatively difficult to unite and power projection. By the way, the Xiongnu tribes were with the earlier Han dynasty and not the Tang.


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