Understanding Indian Public Opinion Toward China: Evidence from Seven Decades of Survey Data


India is increasingly important in world politics, yet we know little about how Indians view international affairs. This paper analyzes a unique collection of Indian public opinion data about China spanning seven decades, The paper compares evidence from India to theories in the existing OECD-focused literature, making an empirical contribution to the study of India in IR and identifying where India aligns with/diverges from existing conventional wisdom. We find that India’s “foreign policy public” is broadly similar to that of OECD countries, and nonrepresentative of broader public. More surprisingly, we show that domestic political cleavages shaping public opinion are quite different in India, depending more on region, and less on partisanship. We provide tentative evidence that Indians who offer survey responses have sophisticated, coherent opinions, that do not seem to mechanistically reflect elite priorities. Our findings have implications for research on India, and IR more broadly.

Under Review
Aidan Milliff
Aidan Milliff
Assistant Professor