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Chinese Media Fury Over Arunachal Pradesh

The “Global Times” is a a tabloid brought out by the “People’s Daily” group, which is controlled by the Communist Party of China.It largely focusses on foreign affairs and has the reputation of being very nationalistic in its views on developments abroad.While the “People’s Daily” sticks to the Party and Government lines on matters relating to China’s relations with other countries, the “Global Times” takes a little more liberty in its comments.

2.Before April,2009, the “Global Times” was published in the Chinese language. Since April 20, 2009, the “People’s Daily” group has been bringing out an English language edition, which is also available online. This new edition attracted attention recently when it came out with an article on the Tiananmen Square incident of !989, whereas the rest of the Chinese media had ignored its 20th anniversary.

3. In an article carried on June 1,2009, it made a reference to the “June 4 incident” without referring to the Tiananmen Square, but in a subsequent write-up of June 4,2009, it specifically referred to the ” Tiananmen incident” and justified the action taken by the authorities in handling the incident. The write-up even carried a photo of the Tiananmen Square. It said: “Twenty years after the June 4 Tiananmen incident, public discussion about what happened that day is almost non-existent in mainstream society on the Chinese mainland.” It referred to a visit paid by its reporter in New York to the local office of the China Democracy Party to meet some of those who are still “sticking to their old cause.” It quoted a Chinese expert as justifying the handling in the following words: ” “The Chinese Government made a sober and sensible decision to overcome hard times, restore social stability, and enhance economic reform in the 1990s.”

4.The exceptional reference to the Tiananmen Square incident was seen by many as indicating an attempt by the Party to justify to foreign audiences the party and Government line on sensitive issues on which discussion is not allowed inside China. Interestingly, on June 11,2009,the “Global Times” came out with a hard-hitting editorial against India on the issue of the Indian State of Arunachal Pradesh, which is not accepted by China as Indian territory. China describes Arunachal Pradesh as “southern Tibet” and has been laying claim at least to the Tawang Tract, if not to the whole territory. The long-continuing negotiations between the two countries on the border question have not made progress due to the Chinese insistence on their claim to at least Tawang, if not to the whole of Arunachal Pradesh.

5. The hard-hitting editorial was provoked by some comments reportedly made by Gen.J.J.Singh, the Governor of Arunachal Pradesh, on the continuing high-level of Chinese troop intrusions into the Indian territory in this sector and the action taken by the Government of India to protect its territory through measures such as the deployment of additional troops in Arunachal Pradesh. A copy of the editorial is annexed.

6. The editorial warned: “India’s current course can only lead to a rivalry between the two countries. India needs to consider whether or not it can afford the consequences of a potential confrontation with China. It should also be asking itself why it hasn’t forged the stable and friendly relationship with China that China enjoys with many of India’s neighbors, like Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Any aggressive moves will certainly not aid the development of good relations with China. India should examine its attitude and preconceptions it will need to adjust if it hopes to cooperate with China and achieve a mutually beneficial outcome.”

7. The fact that this editorial was reproduced by the “People’s Daily” the same day strongly indicated , firstly, that it could not have been carried by the “Global Times” without prior vetting by the authorities and, secondly, that the editorial was written for the benefit of not only the foreign audience, but also the domestic readers. It was an instance of a governmental view conveyed through seemingly non-governmental channels.

8. The “Global Times” did not stop with that. The next day, it carried briefly the results of an online public opinion poll carried out on June 10 by one huanqiu.com. According to it, the results showed that 90 per cent of the participants believed that India posed a big threat to China after India announced it would dispatch 60,000 troops to the border with China. About 74 per cent of the participants believed that China should not maintain friendly relations with India anymore after its military provocation. And more than 65 per cent believed India’s actions were harmful to bilateral ties—- more harmful to India. It quoted Dai Xun, a military expert, as saying that India’s military moves could cast a shadow over bilateral relations and could destroy the mutual trust between the two countries .

9. In a factual report on June 11,2009, the “China Daily” quoted Ye Hailin, an expert in India studies with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), as saying as follows: ” New Delhi is strengthening its control because it knows clearly that China will not resort to military action to solve the problem. India is adopting this means to make its control over the area an accepted fact.” It quoted Sun Shihai, another expert in the CASS, as saying: “It (additional deployment) is not helpful to resolve the border dispute, and could easily cause regional tension.The chance of a border conflict is not big, if India does not instigate it.”

10.Since the beginning of this year, there have been fresh signs of a hardening of the Chinese stance on its claim to Arunachal Pradesh. This became evident when it opposed a proposal for a loan to India from the Asian Development Bank for a flood control project in Arunachal Pradesh. The criticism voiced in sections of the Chinese media, which do not carry anything without the prior approval of the Government and the party, of reported Indian moves for enhanced security in Arunachal Pradesh has been in unusually strong language.

11. The message, which the Chinese seem to be seeking to convey, is, firstly, that there cannot be a solution to the long-pending border dispute without a mutually satisfactory solution in the Arunachal Pradesh sector; secondly, despite the continuing differences, China will not take the initiative in making any military moves; and, thirdly, there could be a confrontational situation due to the reported additional Indian troop deployments in Arunachal Pradesh.

12. Arunachal Pradesh is Indian territory. India has the legitimate right to strengthen its capability to protect its territory through the required development of the infrastructure and troop deployments. India should go ahead with its plans in this regard. At the same time, India should refrain from projecting these moves in public as in response to a possible Chinese military threat. It will be better for all public statements in this regard to be made carefully from New Delhi and not from Arunachal Pradesh. (12-6-09)

(The writer, Mr B.Raman, is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. He is also associated with the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com)

ANNEXURE (EDITORIAL CARRIED BY GLOBAL TIMES ON JUNE 11,2009)

INDIA’S UNWISE MILITARY MOVES

In the last few days, India has dispatched roughly 60,000 troops to its border with China, the scene of enduring territorial disputes between the two countries.

J.J. Singh, the Indian governor of the controversial area, said the move was intended to “meet future security challenges” from China. Meanwhile, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh claimed, despite cooperative India-China relations, his government would make no concessions to China on territorial disputes.

The tough posture Singh’s new government has taken may win some applause among India’s domestic nationalists. But it is dangerous if it is based on a false anticipation that China will cave in.

India has long held contradictory views on China. Another big Asian country, India is frustrated that China’s rise has captured much of the world’s attention. Proud of its “advanced political system,” India feels superior to China. However, it faces a disappointing domestic situation which is unstable compared with China’s.

India likes to brag about its sustainable development, but worries that it is being left behind by China. China is seen in India as both a potential threat and a competitor to surpass.

But India can’t actually compete with China in a number of areas, like international influence, overall national power and economic scale. India apparently has not yet realized this.

Indian politicians these days seem to think their country would be doing China a huge favor simply by not joining the “ring around China” established by the US and Japan. India’s growing power would have a significant impact on the balance of this equation, which has led India to think that fear and gratitude for its restraint will cause China to defer to it on territorial disputes.

But this is wishful thinking, as China won’t make any compromises in its border disputes with India. And while China wishes to coexist peacefully with India, this desire isn’t born out of fear.

India’s current course can only lead to a rivalry between the two countries. India needs to consider whether or not it can afford the consequences of a potential confrontation with China. It should also be asking itself why it hasn’t forged the stable and friendly relationship with China that China enjoys with many of India’s neighbors, like Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

Any aggressive moves will certainly not aid the development of good relations with China. India should examine its attitude and preconceptions it will need to adjust if it hopes to cooperate with China and achieve a mutually beneficial outcome.

Source: Global Times

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