china & india Comparing China with India, what were the factors which led to Chinese political unification for much of its history in contrast to India where fragmentation is more often the norm?
Unlike India, China has historically been relatively isolated from other civilizations of comparable prestige and power due to its geography. Therefore, like ancient Egypt, it came to think of itself as the world’s central civilization, whose mission was to expand its scope and impose its influence and culture on the surrounding peoples. India has two long coastal lines, while China has one. This key geographic difference exposed India to far more extensive and diverse economic, social, and cultural contacts than China.
In China, the state has traditionally played a much larger role in regulating the economy than in India or most other countries. In part, this organizing role of the government was derived from the need to regulate the course of the rivers, especially the unpredictable Yellow River, in the vicinity of which the earliest Chinese states were formed. To do this, the government had to mobilize an extensive workforce to carry out massive earthworks. The Chinese also developed a much more extensive internal communications network, including a system of internal waterways, the running and maintenance of which required central supervision; these networks proved vital for the functioning of the Chinese economy.
The constant threat of nomadic invasions from the north and the west made the Chinese people and their government think about and organize a common defense in much more systematic fashion than was the case in India. India enjoyed protection from the high mountain ranges, which provided an effective barrier in the north, and from deserts of Eastern Iran, which made it difficult for anyone to attack India from the west.
Unlike India, China had no major racial tensions. Ethnic and language differences were also much more prominent in India, with its hundreds of languages, than in China. Likewise, the Chinese religions of Daoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism did not divide people into ritually distinct groups (castes or jatis) or categories (varnas) with specific ritual obligations or enforced separation. The Chinese political order was more paternalistic; it modeled itself on the hierarchical order of an extended family or clan in which the younger members enjoyed less authority and privilege but were not qualitatively distinct from older members, whose authority depended solely on their position and experience.
The Chinese educational system, especially in its Confucian and Buddhist forms, was not ritually exclusive, unlike the Vedic system. Instead, education in China was relatively open to most people, including lower-class boys. The Chinese examination system was elitist and highly competitive, but it stressed individual abilities rather than the origins or social status of the student. In this way, Chinese high culture provided venues for social mobility and exercised an integrative influence on Chinese society.