Are ‘war-mongers’ narrating the China-India story?

Discussion in 'Defence & Strategic Issues' started by A.V., Sep 16, 2010.

  1. A.V.

    A.V. New Member

    Feb 16, 2009
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    Moscow, russia
    Recently, on the Chinese internet, there surfaced a thrilling account of a naval war scenario involving China and India. “It was a vivid rendering of how Chinese navy vessels entered the Bay of Bengal and, in just a few days, destroyed the entire fleet of Indian warships,” recalls Prof Liu Jian of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), one of China’s most influential policy think tanks.

    The narrative, it turned out, was a work of fiction, the product of a fevered imagination. And although such “crazy stories” aren’t representative of how most Chinese leaders and ordinary people perceive India, says Liu, it was a manifestation of the “antagonism and hostility” towards India that resonates among small sections of Chinese military circles and “extremely nationalist youth”.

    A similar China-directed hawkish streak is discernible in the public discourse in India, points out Dr Jagannath Panda, research fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses. In recent times, there have been countless “alarmist narratives” about China in the media and among sections of the strategic think tank community, which offer no “constructive insight” on China, but only feed a “nationalist” sentiment, he adds.

    Recent manifestations of strains between the two giant trans-
    Himalayan neighbours — over China’s denial of a visa to an Indian army general serving in Kashmir, and the reported presence of Chinese troops in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir — have accentuated the “trust deficit”, endangered by the unresolved Sino-Indian border dispute, which led to the war of 1962. Prime minister Manmohan Singh’s recent (off-the-record) comments about China seeking “a foothold” in South Asia have disconcertingly escalated the war of words to the highest rung of the ladder of policymaking circles.

    Is all this unchecked nationalist war-mongering rhetoric in the media and strategic think tank space now distorting the tone of the official narrative? Will such narratives harden public and official attitudes on both sides and make it harder to resolve long-pending disputes?

    “Media headlines shouldn’t be allowed to make policy,” asserts former foreign secretary Salman Haidar, who served as India’s ambassador to China in the early 1990s, when the PV Narasimha Rao government formulated its Look East foreign policy. “Of course, we can’t ignore the things that divide the two countries, but while some watchfulness may be warranted, we shouldn’t get swayed by alarmist media reports or give them undue importance.”

    To the credit of policymakers and diplomats on both sides, Haidar sees Sino-Indian relations as “equable, despite the frictions and problems”. War, he adds, is “inconceivable” and there is a “basic good sense and stability” in the relationship.

    Liu of CASS shares that sentiment, and points to a changing perception of India among Chinese leaders and scholars. “Chinese leaders’ attitudes and mindset towards India today are very reasonable: more reasonable than was the case with leaders in the Mao Zedong era,” he says. And even in the media discourse in China, “positive coverage” of India outweighs the negative reportage, he adds.

    Dr Zhao Hong, a visiting Chinese scholar at the National University of Singapore’s East Asian Institute, too points out that Indian perceptions of China as reflected in official trade policies and the popular media discourse are “generally negative and suspicious”, whereas Chinese public perceptions of India are “benign”.

    If that’s true, what accounts for what IDSA scholar Panda calls the “fragmented dialogue” vis-a-vis China among the Indian strategic elite, including the government, the media and policy think tanks? He points to several reasons. “The strategic community in India seems to be struggling between conceding and apprehending China’s rise,” he notes.

    Additionally, difficulties in ‘China-watching’ persist in India given that there aren’t enough scholars on China and most students who learn Chinese opt for better-paying corporate careers rather than join the government, think tanks or the media. “There is limited policy discourse in India about China, and the alarmist media narrative has confused India’s China policy at a broader level,” he adds.

    Panda says “outdated impressions” of China’s progress as a state can lead to “poor policy formulations”. As Linda Jakobson and Dean Knox, analysts at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, point out in a recent report, new “foreign policy actors” are emerging in China on the margins of the traditional power structure, and foreign governments must take into account these agencies that have a say in foreign policy decision.

    Other scholars point to a more fundamental problem in the Sino-Indian discourse. Despite occasional incantations about a ‘Chindia’ framework, “mutual mistrust” between the two countries cannot easily be overcome so long as the relationship is driven only by a strategic elite community, without much grassroots-level people-to-people interaction, reasons Dr Renaud Egreteau, who heads the China-India project at the Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences.

    Indicatively, he adds, the US-India relationship and the US-China relationship are influenced or “mellowed” to an extent by the Indian and Chinese diaspora in the US, which act as lobbying groups. But China and India don’t have similar deep civil society interactions. India is perhaps the only big country without a ‘Chinatown’ today: even the Chinese settlement in Kolkata was dispersed after the 1962 war.

    Likewise, the Indian diaspora in China is fairly insubstantial; even student exchange programs are thin on the ground - although that will be addressed by human resource development minister Kapil Sabil’s upcoming China visit, during which agreements on mutual recognition of degrees will be signed.

    So, how can the tone of the Sino-Indian narrative be changed from hysterical ‘war-mongering’ on both sides to finding the pragmatic balance of “competitive cooperation”? Haidar, the distinguished diplomat, recalls the counsel he received, ahead of his China ambassadorial appointment, from renowned political strategist PN Haksar.

    “He said that the border dispute and other political issues weren’t going to disappear overnight and that the two sides could begin by understanding what their societies were about: how are they advancing, what are they doing to make better lives for themselves.” Perhaps, muses Haidar, that’s ultimately where the two countries’ peoples can relate to each other.

    The trick, adds Egreteau, is not to have a “naive” notion of friendly relations, but have a more “pragmatic” discourse — having a dialogue, while recognising there are differences and disputes that can be discussed without derailing the entire process.

    Are ‘war-mongers’ narrating the China-India story? - India - DNA
  3. EagleOne

    EagleOne Regular Member

    May 10, 2010
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    Chinese internet is inspired by tommorow never dies movie .........
  4. Phenom

    Phenom Regular Member

    Mar 6, 2010
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    Day before Yesterday
    Person 1: China is building enormous infrastruture on theis side of the border, we should do something.
    Person 2: You are just too paranoid and nationalistic

    Person 1: China is now openly laying claim to large swath of Indian territory and their troops violate our borders on a regular basis
    Person 2: You are just too paranoid and nationalistic

    Person 1 : There are Chinese troops in PoK and China has even stepped up the rhetoric on Kashmir
    Person 2 : You are too paranoid and nationalistic.

    Person 1 : The Chinese have opened up on us on several fronts, our poor infrasture and lack of preparation are severely hampering us.
    Person 2 : See this is all your fault, I told you not to be too nationalistic. Now you have caused all this problem.
  5. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

    Mar 24, 2009
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    The baggage of 62 continues to be one of the policy drivers and I may say rightly so. India cannot trust China a bit till india itself becomes more powerful militarily and economically. Also the regular incursions into indian territory by the chinese puts india on the defensive. Add to that its diplomats on regular basis ranting about Tawang etc does no good to indian psyche at all vis a vis China. With china having grown this big, it now probably cannot grant any concessions on the border dispute with india as it will be a major embarrassment and loss of face internationally. India is sitting pretty in its defense no matter what people say regarding its preparations. So it suits india just fine to drag this dispute for another 10 years and put it out of reach of the chinese.
  6. hit&run

    hit&run Elite Member Elite Member

    May 29, 2009
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    Chinese perceptions were never benign and that was evident in recent Poll results where on the contrary India was benign and Chinese were hating Indians more then ever. Chinese trolls are crawling everywhere and making stereotype comments about Indians more than usual racist westerners. To every hateful anti India Pakistani rant there is Chinese behind it and vise a verse. Urban Chinese are not able to digest their Prosperity and so called purchase power to buy more equipments lol. War mongering is another Chinese time pass at their recent exposure 'www'.

    As far as this Article is concerned i am totally pissed off, actually before clicking to this article link i bet to myself that it is definitely of Indian origin. And guess what i won the bet. Only Indians are famous for doing introspect, feel guilt and ready to feed the beast outside. Only Indians are good story tellers of self criticism, making jokes about how corrupt Indians are (I mean a fictional % of fictional Indians but not themselves) .

    This very article is reflecting the same where India's genuine concerns (which are not atypical to rest of the world;anxious about China) are placed on the same Platform with Chinese war mongering; bursting out from a inflated Chinese military might confidence.

    Who is the aggressor, who is on the receiving end without provocation, who needs to be alarmed, who was attacked more times ever in Asia, who needs to learn from the history, who is been encircled by expansionist powers and who is doing military alliances are few questioned to be answered before declaring Indians as war mongers for no reason like Chinese.

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