As Indian and Chinese armies' face off on Bhutanese ground continues, the tension seems to have spilt over to media organisations in the respective countries as well. The Indian media has made sure that the phrase 'Sikkim standoff' has entered the public consciousness even as no one is sure how the situation will be resolved.
The Chinese media for its part has stepped up the rhetoric. At the front line is the state-run daily, Global Times, which on Tuesday published an article which warned that "India’s provocation will trigger all-out confrontation on Line of Actual control (LAC)".
While the author advises restraint for both sides, the tilt of the piece is clear enough with sentences like "Within China, there are voices calling for the Indian troops to be expelled immediately to safeguard the country's sovereignty, while Indian public opinion is clamouring for war with China". The idea thus is that while China is merely protecting its sovereignty, India is aching for war.
The article further warned India that "China doesn't fear going to war to safeguard sovereignty and will make itself ready for a long-term confrontation". The piece says that "according to Indian media, Indian troops are stationed at the border area and have set up logistical support".
It further added that "China must continue strengthening border construction and speed up troop deployment and construction in the Doka La (Doklam in China) area. These are legitimate actions of a sovereign country".
Global Times is affiliated to the Communist Party of China mouthpiece, People’s Daily, according to Hindustan Times. Its battle-plan is to blur New Delhi’s points of view on the current conflict and push China’s deliberately one-sided view of the situation.
The article in the Chinese daily also makes note of the fact that "the 3,500-kilometre border has never been short of disputes". And while it insists that "the Indian side has repeatedly made provocations", it fails to make any mention of the fact that the Chinese Army too has made numerous incursions on the border.
This article is hardly the first time the newspaper has taken a hostile position against India. It had earlier warned that Beijing may support "pro-independence appeals in Sikkim" if New Delhi does not stop pursuing "regional hegemony" through the border face-off.
"In the past, China was wary of India playing the Dalai Lama card, but this card is already overplayed and will exert no additional effect on the Tibet question. But if Beijing adjusts its stance on India-sensitive issues, it could be a powerful card to deal with New Delhi," the newspaper wrote in an article stating that China can rethink its stance on Sikkim, Bhutan.
Another article in the paper re-evaluates the present border dispute and quotes Chinese experts saying that with the current geopolitical strategies undergoing a sea of change (India's improved and good relations with major world powers), New Delhi is overvaluing its international status. The piece goes on to hint that New Delhi should not take things for granted. "...after economic reforms, India has enjoyed a period of rapid economic growth. However, it should be known that economic development needs a peaceful and stable environment," it said.
Other than Global Times, People's Daily, the mouthpiece of the Communist Party of China too has published editorials which can be dubbed as a clear warning to India against "encroaching on Chinese territory". It claimed that India’s attempt to “encroach” revealed the lack of desire to negotiate a settlement of the boundary issue and warns that the patience of the Chinese government, the Chinese people and the Chinese border guards will not be unlimited.
Another article published in XinhuaNet, considered an official view, said that "despite its strategic discomfort, it is important for India to get over its 'China anxiety' and carefully assess the initiative, recognise its potential benefits and seize the opportunities".
China remains an anomaly in the modern world as it pairs a robust economy with a sub-par record on human rights (including the freedom of expression). Its media is especially throttled as censorship is part and parcel of daily life. As such, whatever the few media outlets — which are kept on a tight leash by the government — publish form a huge part of a Chinese person's outlook of the world. The constant diatribe against India might not affect India too much but they will make sure that the national mood in China remains anti-India and New Delhi's explanations for its actions in Doka La never quite become the dominant narrative.
Updated Date: Jul 18, 2017 15:33 PM