As appeared in www.saag.org
The Party and State controlled Chinese language media, both print and electronic, in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), have started commenting on the forthcoming visit of President Hu Jintao to India. Unlike the PRC’s international press in English, which has so far been factual while reporting on the scheduled visit, the domestic despatches have carried certain candid observations, which assume significance from the points of view of analysts both in and outside the host government. Notable from India ’s point of view has been the broad indications in the despatches of the prevailing cautious optimism of the Chinese side concerning the visit. On the other hand, New Delhi may have to examine carefully the implications of a heavy anti-India bias noticed in few recent ‘online’ assessments, made in general with no connection to the visit. The viewpoints contained in the recent Chinese language despatches have been summarised as below
“Both India and China are yet to reach a complete consensus on the disputed territory in East and West; the focal point of the border dispute is the Tawang region, the birth place of Fifth Dalai Lama, which for India, is of strategic, religious and political importance. It is not easy therefore for India to make a compromise on Tawang. A solution to Sino-Indian border dispute involves three basic factors – establishment of mutual political and security trust, realisation of political will on the part of both the leaderships and people to people contact and understanding. These factors do not exist now and as such, a border solution may take considerably a long time”. (Professor Fu Xiaoqiang, China Institute for Contemporary International relations, a think tank affiliated to the PRC’s Ministry of State Security, www. chinareviewnews.com, November 12, 2006).
“McMahon line was imposed by the colonialists on China . China should recover its borders, but through a negotiated settlement with India ”(signed article, www.bwl.jschina.com.cn/war_cw/india.htm, October 30, 2006).
China a security threat to India ?
“India should absolutely have no fears of threat coming from China . The PRC cannot become an obstacle to India ’s development. India ’s security concerns regarding China, though not the main current now, arise from three factors – military, economic and geopolitical. Taking the first, after the completion of Qinghai-Tibet Railway line, fears arose in India on China ’s resultant ability to move troops into Tibet . Security concerns also compelled India to impose restrictions in 2005 on Chinese companies intending to operate in India . In geo-political sense, India may think that the Railway line to Tibet would further integrate the region with the mainland, drawing India’s neighbours like Nepal and Bangladesh closer to China . India ’s security concerns have a background- the 1962 Sino-Indian conflict, holding of nuclear tests by India in 90s with ‘China threat’ as pretext and the still unsolved border issue. It cannot be expected that such concerns would disappear in a short span of time. (Signed article, July 20, 2006,news.xinhuanet.com/comments/2006-07/20/content_4860424.htm)
“ India ’s plans to set up a new naval base are meant to offset China ’s influence in the Indian Ocean and Myanmar . India , through deployment of aircraft carrier, nuclear submarines etc aim to control the Bay of Bengal . Indian Navy is looking East and New Delhi aims to convert the Indian Ocean as its ‘internal sea’ and neutralise China’s naval power”( Shijie Xinwen Bao, signed article, Sohu.com, October 30, 2006).
“In terms of security, India is a potential threat to China . India has risen economically, carried out nuclear tests and emerged as a Science and Technology power. It is aspiring to become a permanent member of the UNSC, besides enjoying clout in the third world as a leader of Non-Aligned movement. India is a ‘regional hegemon’, colluding with international anti-China forces and the Dalai Lama. Overall, India is endangering China ’s strategic environment. What China should do in response is to strengthen the infrastructure in its south – west border region and forge closer ties with Pakistan and Myanmar . China should not take India lightly”. (Signed article, http://bwl.jschina.com.cn/war_cw/India.htm,October 30, 2006)
“In spite of Sino-Indian agreements on confidence building measures relating to the Line of Actual Control, the Indian Government has not given up its ambition to invade large tracts of adjacent territories. India has expanded its strategy in China ’s Southwest border, while considering China as a strategic competitor and political enemy. India poses a potential threat to China in south- west. (People’s net, Renmin Gang, bwl.jschina.com.cn, October 30, 2006).
India ’s relations with US and Japan
“US assurance to India to make the latter a world power in 21st century, is only a lip service. The US has not helped India in becoming a UNSC permanent member. Washington ’s civil nuclear cooperation agreement with New Delhi is meant for limiting India ’s strategic nuclear capabilities. Japan ’s support to India has the aim of containing China , but as India rises economically, Japan ’s own economic influence in the region would diminish (http://bwl.jschina.com.cn, October 30, 2006).
India ’s security fears over Chinese investment
“There are divisions in the Indian Government on security implications arising from investment by Chinese companies in India . At present, only Bangladesh and Pakistan come under the category of India ’s ‘investment restriction’. While the Indian Finance and Commerce ministries favour imposing no investment restrictions on a specific country, the National Security Council headed by Adviser M.K.Narayanan is for total investigation of origins of all foreign investments as first step. The Indian Home ministry is of the same view. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is silent on the issue, but statements coming from him and Finance Minister Chidambaram are generally supportive of the need for FDI in India . The statements appear to be an Indian attempt to create a suitable atmosphere prior to Hu Jintao’s visit. But it is a fact there are deep suspicions on China among Indian bureaucracy”.(People’s Daily-affiliated Global times, November 9, 2006, www.world.people.com.cn/gb/57506/5028539.html).
“Objections from India ’s National security Council (NSC) for setting up of cargo transport facilities by the Chinese civil aviation companies in Indian airports are not based on good reasons as contrary to allegations, such companies have no military connections, but produce certain military goods like what the Boeing of the USA and Mitsubishi of Japan do. While the NSC l had all along been following a suspicious approach towards China , certain Indian groups including the Communist Party of India-Marxist, have voiced protests in this regard saying that the NSC reports should not be used by India as pretext to stop Chinese investments”. (Signed article, Global Times, November 13, 2006, www.chinadaily.com.cn/jjzg/2006-11/13/content_7311349.htm)
Is there any message, which China wants to convey to India through its media articles in the run up to Hu Jintao’s visit? The answer is yes. In the main, Beijing is signalling that the visit notwithstanding, a border solution is not reachable in the immediate future. Secondly, Beijing seems to queer the pitch for India ’s correction of its policy with regard to Chinese investments, indicating that the Chinese side will focus the matter during the visit. Last but not least, is one aspect of China ’s regional strategic outlook brought out in the articles – India in long term poses a challenge to the security of China ’s South-West border.
(The writer, Mr.D.S.Rajan, is former Director, Cabinet Secretariat, Govt of India. email: email@example.com)