And yet it is shocking how little we know about our most formidable neighbour. More so at a time when China is at its liveliest in decades.
The economic surge that has made it the world's second biggest economy has triggered a surge not only in freedom, debates and nationalism, but also in corruption and other ills that afflict societies right across the world.
Most of us, though, continue to remain in the dark about these developments or cling on to old assumptions.
The lack of knowledge stems right at the very top.
The protean Communist Party, the moving force behind every move China makes, has managed to confound most experts and escape their rigid definitions.
The workings of this secretive organisation has now been put firmly in the spotlight by Richard McGregor, former Financial Times China bureau chief and the author of the illuminating The Party: The Secret World of China's Communist Rulers.
The unique book, which explains 'the party's functions, structures and how political power is exercised through them' in a deeply engaging way with the aid of a rich cast of characters, has of course been banned in mainland China.
In an interview to R Rajesh Kumar, the author talks of the difficulties he had in chronicling the "least understood and most important political phenomenon in the world today".
He also shares his views on the challenges the Party faces and on the China-India equation. Read on...
Image: Author Richard McGregor seen outside the Confucius Temple, in Qufu, 2007.
Image Courtesy: Richard McGregor