Writer Pankaj Mishra’s A Great Clamour: Encounters with China and Its Neighbours explores a country of considerable interest. Speaking with Srijana Mitra Das, Mishra discussed the idea of China, films, freedom, Narendra Modi – and whether he’ll be at lit fests soon: TOI
Is there an idea of China?
Well, there’s a grand narrative of the ruling elite which the new Chinese leader Xi Jinping invokes – the China dream. There’s been a dream of Chinese regeneration through the last century, repeated by Mao Zedong. Deng Xioping’s reason for liberalising was, we must develop – or be bullied.
That remains important in how the Chinese perceive themselves and the world. It’s a defensive idea, unlike the idea of India which accommodates pluralism, diversity, etc. The idea of China is defined against a fear of being encircled, threatened – you see that in Chinese nationalism.