Monday, August 17, 2009

CHINA AS SEEN & INTERPRETED BY "THE HINDU"

B.RAMAN

Normally, I do not pay serious attention to reports and articles on China carried by "The Hindu" of Chennai. Its sympathy for China and its policy in recent years of keeping out of its columns any report or article of a negative nature on China is well known. Equally well known is its policy of placing its columns at the disposal of the Xinhua news agency of China, which is owned by the Government of China, without telling its readers that the Xinhua is a mouthpiece of the Chinese government. It generally tries to create an impression in the minds of its
readers that India has no reason to worry about China.


2. But I did take notice of an article titled "Does Beijing Really Want To break Up India? " carried by "The Hindu" in its Op-Ed page on August 17,2009, for two reasons. Firstly, it tries to cast in a negative light the Chennai Centre For China Studies, which has been closely monitoring the Chinese language press and bringing interesting, significant or worrisome writings to the notice of the Indian readers. I have been given to understand that in recent months the Chennai Centre has been blacklisted by the Chinese authorities and I was intrigued to notice that
the article reflects some of the arguments used by the critics of the Centre in China.


3. The second reason is that "The Hindu" article tries to cast doubts on the credibility of an article titled 'China Should Break Up the Indian Union, Says A Chinese Strategist", written by Shri D.S.Rajan, of the Chennai Centre on August 9,2009. The article is available at
http://www.c3sindia.org/india/719 . The text of the article, which was also carried by a number of other Indian web sites, including that of the South Asia Analysis Group (SAAG), is annexed for ready reference,

4. "The Hindu" article has been written by Shri Ananth Krishnan, who has recently taken over as the Beijing correspondent of "The Hindu".One does not know his background and credentials as a China analyst. It is important for the readers to have some idea of the credentials of Shri Rajan. Before the Sino-Indian war of 1962, the Government of India was largely dependent on the media monitoring agencies of the UK and the US for monitoring and analysing the writings and broadcasts of the Chinese language media. After the war, the Government of Jawaharlal Nehru realised that it was unwise to totally depend on the Chinese media monitoring and analysis services of the West and decided to build up our own capability. In the years following the 1962 war, a creash drive was undertaken by the Government to recruit
and train a group of young people fresh from the universities in the Chinese and Japanese languages and make them responsible for monitoring and analysing the Chinese and Japanese language media.


5. Shri Rajan was one of those thus recruited and trained by being sent abroad for improving his proficiency. Shri Rajan, who is now 67 years old, had spent about 35 years as a Chinese analyst by monioring writings in the Chinese and Japanese language media. Of these 35 years,he had spent three years in Hong Kong when it was a British-administered territory, three years in China and six years in Japan in two spells.During his service, he was associated with the visits of a number of Chinese delegations to India as well as with the visits of a number of
Indian delegations to China.


6. Shri Rajan's article has eight paras. The first para gives Shri Rajan's comments on the web site which carried the article. The last para gives Shri Rajan's assessment of the article. The remaining paras are a gist of translations of the contents of the article. The first para on the background of the Chinese article says: "Almost coinciding with the 13th round of Sino-Indian border talks (New Delhi, August 7-8, 2009),an article (in Chinese language) has appeared in China captioned “If China takes a little action, the so-called Great Indian Federation can be broken up” ( Zhong Guo Zhan Lue Gang, www.iiss.cn , Chinese,8 August 2009). Interestingly, it has been reproduced in several other strategic and military websites of the country and by all means, targets the domestic audience. The authoritative host site is located in Beijing and is the new edition of one, which so far represented the China International Institute for Strategic Studies (www.chinaiiss.org)."


7.Shri Ananth Krishnan says in his first para: "The post was translated and analysed with some significant errors..." One would have lauded Shri Krishnan if he had specified these errors so that one could have stood corrected. Were the errors in translation or analysis? Shri Krishnan is silent on this question. If the errors are in translation and if Shri Krishnan's command of the Chinese language is better than that of Shri Rajan, why does he not specify them?


8. What has Shri Rajan said in his analysis of the contents of the article: " The Chinese article in question will certainly outrage readers in India. Its suggestion that China can follow a strategy to dismember India, a country always with a tradition of unity in diversity, is atrocious, to say the least. The write-up could not have been published without the permission of the Chinese authorities, but it is sure that Beijing will wash its hands out of this if the matter is taken up with it by New Delhi. It has generally been seen that China is speaking in two voices – its
diplomatic interlocutors have always shown understanding during their dealings with their Indian counterparts, but its selected media is pouring venom on India in their reporting. Which one to believe is a question confronting the public opinion and even policy makers in India.In any case, an approach of panic towards such outbursts will be a mistake, but also ignoring them will prove to be costly for India."


9. What is wrong in this analysis? In the 1950s, a number of maps of the Indo-Chinese border started circulating in China and appearing in sections of the Chinese media. The Indian intelligence rightly brought these to the notice of Jawaharlal Nehru, the then Prime Minister, who took up the matter with Chou En-lai, his Chinese counterpart. He assured Nehru that these maps were circulated by private individuals and had been prepared by the Taiwanese before 1949. He told Nehru that India should not worry about them. Nehru was shocked before the 1962 war when the Chinese used the very same maps, which Chou had described as not official, for claiming large parts of Indian territory and occupying much of it. Today, it is on the basis of the very same maps which the Chinese portrayed as not official that they are claiming
Arunachal Pradesh as Chinese territory.


10. Was Shri Rajan mistaken in sounding a word of caution that while " an approach of panic towards such outbursts will be a mistake, but also ignoring them will prove to be costly for India"? This was a sound word of caution based on our past experience of dealing with China. I leave it to the readers to decide what they will believe ---Shri Rajan's word of caution or Shri Krishnan's soothing words on China?


11. Shri Krishnan also writes: " The post in question appeared in an important-sounding web site calling itself the International Institute of Strategic Studies (which has no relation to the London-based think-tank of the same name). The Chennai Centre For China Studies, which first translated and analysed the post before it was circulated among the Indian media, assumed that this was a Government-sponsored
think-tank and also wrongly claimed that this was linked to the China Institute For International Starategic Studies (CIISS), a Beijing think-tank. But a quick-check revealed that the IISS web site where the post appeared actually has no government ties and is by no means an established Beijing think-tank---it is just a web site."


12. Dear Mr.Ananth Krishnan, where has the article said that this was a Government-sponsored think-tank? Where has it claimed that this was linked to the China Institute For International Strategic Studies? Mr.Krishnan: We know more than you probably do about the China Institute For International Strategic Studies, which is a highly reputed think tank of the Chinese Defence Ministry. Its chief is generally a
senior retired officer of the People's Liberation Army. Its past chiefs and scholars had visited India. Shri Rajan had interacted with it during his stay in China. Where is the question of Shri Rajan confusing the web site with this prestigious think-tank?


13. Following the uproar in Indian non-governmental circles over the contents of the Chinese article, there was a damage-control exercise mounted by Beijing through the owners of the web site in question as well as a former Chinese Ambassador to India and others. Many of us were in receipt of E-mails from Beijing making some of the same points which Shri Krishnan has made in his article, which I am inclined to see as part of this damage control exercise.


14. Shri Rajan had drawn attention to this anti-India web site as early as November 27,2006, immediately after the visit of President Hu Jintao to India in an article which can be found at http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/papers21/paper2039.html . He was also the first to draw attention in 2006 to the fact that Chinese writings had started referring to Arunachal Pradesh as "southern Tibet" and not as Arunachal
Pradesh. One was told at that time that these were all private writings, that China was changing and that non-governmental views in China no longer necessarily reflected the governmental view. We know the reality today.


15. It is a fact that some sections of our media went to town with Shri Rajan's article and sensationalised the contents of the Chinese article, but the concern in large sections of the Indian civil society over the implications of the theme of the Chinese article is understandable if one remembers the fact that China before 1979 had trained many of our Nago and Mizo insurgents in secret training
camps in Yunnan, that there are reports that Paresh Barua of the United Liberation Front of Assam is even today in touch with the Chinese,that before November,2008, China opposed the declaration of the Lashkar-e-Toiba as a terrorist organisation by the Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council and even today opposes the declaration of the Jaish-e-Mohammad as a terrorist organisation.

(17-8-09)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Deelhi, 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

China Should break up the Indian Union, suggests a Chinese Strategist

D.S.Rajan, C3S Paper No.325 dated August 9, 2009

Almost coinciding with the 13th round of Sino-Indian border talks (New Delhi, August 7-8, 2009), an article (in Chinese language) has appeared in China captioned “If China takes a little action, the so-called Great Indian Federation can be broken up” ( Zhong Guo Zhan Lue Gang, www.iiss.cn , Chinese,8 August 2009). Interestingly, it has been reproduced in several other strategic and military websites of the
country and by all means, targets the domestic audience. The authoritative host site is located in Beijing and is the new edition of one, which so far represented the China International Institute for Strategic Studies (www.chinaiiss.org)."

Claiming that Beijing’s ‘China-Centric’ Asian strategy, provides for splitting India, the writer of the article, Zhan Lue (strategy), has found that New Delhi’s corresponding ‘India-Centric’ policy in Asia, is in reality a ‘Hindustan centric’ one. Stating that on the other hand ‘local centres’ exist in several of the country’s provinces (excepting for the U.P and certain Northern regions), Zhan Lue has felt that in the face of such local characteristics, the ‘so-called’ Indian nation cannot be considered as one having existed in history.

According to the article, if India today relies on any thing for unity, it is the Hindu religion. The partition of the country was based on religion. Stating that today nation states are the main current in the world, it has said that India could only be termed now as a “Hindu Religious state’. Adding that Hinduism is a decadent religion as it allows caste exploitation and is unhelpful to the country’s modernization, it described the Indian government as one in a dilemma with regard to eradication of the caste system as it realizes that the process to do away with castes may shake the foundation of the consciousness of the Indian nation.

The writer has argued that in view of the above, China in its own interest and the progress of whole Asia, should join forces with different nationalities like Assamese, Tamils, and Kashmiris and support the latter in establishing independent nation-states of their own, out of India. In particular, the ULFA in Assam, a territory neighboring China, can be helped by China so that Assam realizes its national independence.

The article has also felt that for Bangladesh, the biggest threat is from India, which wants to develop a great Indian Federation extending from Afghanistan to Myanmar. India is also targeting China with support to Vietnam’s efforts to occupy Nansha (Spratly) group of islands in South China Sea. Hence the need for China’s consolidation of its alliance with Bangladesh, a country with which the US and Japan are also improving their relations to counter China. It has pointed out that China can give political support to Bangladesh enabling the latter to encourage ethnic Bengalis in India to get rid of Indian control and unite with Bangladesh as one Bengali nation; if the same is not possible,creation of at least another free Bengali nation state as a friendly neighbour of Bangladesh, would be desirable, for the purpose of weakening India’s expansion and threat aimed at forming a ‘unified South Asia’.

The punch line in the article has been that to split India, China can bring into its fold countries like Pakistan, Nepal and Bhutan, support ULFA in attaining its goal for Assam’s independence, back aspirations of Indian nationalities like Tamils and Nagas, encourage Bangladesh to give a push to the independence of West Bengal and lastly recover the 90,000 sq km. territory in Southern Tibet.

Wishing for India’s break-up into 20-30 nation-states like in Europe, the article has concluded by saying that if the consciousness of nationalities in India could be aroused, social reforms in South Asia can be achieved, the caste system can be eradicated and the region can march along the road of prosperity.

The Chinese article in question will certainly outrage readers in India. Its suggestion that China can follow a strategy to dismember India, a country always with a tradition of unity in diversity, is atrocious, to say the least. The write-up could not have been published without the permission of the Chinese authorities, but it is sure that Beijing will wash its hands out of this if the matter is taken up with it by New Delhi. It has generally been seen that China is speaking in two voices – its diplomatic interlocutors have always shown understanding during their
dealings with their Indian counterparts, but its selected media is pouring venom on India in their reporting. Which one to believe is a question confronting the public opinion and even policy makers in India. In any case, an approach of panic towards such outbursts will be a mistake, but also ignoring them will prove to be costly for India.

(The writer, D.S.Rajan, is Director of Chennai Centre for China Studies, Chennai, India, email: dsrajan@gmail.com).

5 comments:

rama said...

Sir, Its a well known fact that Hindu Ram is a card holding member of CPI and Hindu is always a pro china daily carrying more importance to the chinese views.

I also heard that N Ram visits china very often and some of his realtives have business interests in china and china owned companies. Is that True?

Ashok said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ananth said...

Mr. Raman, here are a couple of points to answer the questions you have raised.
1. Mr. Rajan says "The authoritative host site is located in Beijing and is the new edition of one, which so far represented the China International Institute for Strategic Studies." The impression one takes away from this is the website in question has some connection with the govt and CIISS. (Fyi I very well know what the CIISS is.) Take a look at the dozen or so news reports citing Mr. Rajan's post where this impression was reinforced. If this is a misperception by the Indian media, it only reinforces my argument. My argument was that in these reports this obscure website was presented as far more significant and important than it really is, which is I believe to clearly be the case.
2. If you read the whole of my article the errors in Mr. Rajan's analysis would have been made clear to you. The most significant error was the suggestion that the writeup would have had the permission of authorities which as I explained is a stretch, and shows a lack of understanding of the current information landscape in China. This post was not a paper by a CASS or CICIR or an influential Beijing think tank, which was the impression conveyed both in Mr. Rajan's post and the dozens of news reports. It was a post by an anonymous user on a website. It defies logic to claim even such an arbitrary, extreme Fenqing post has the government's backing, and it was my intention to address this unnecessary hype.
3. I have not questioned Mr. Rajan's credentials, which I am well aware of, as he himself knows. I had also asked to interview him for this piece, fyi. Still, his credentials have nothing to do with this debate and our opinions.
4. It is irresponsible -- and ludicrous -- for you to suggest I'm part of some Beijing damage control exercise. It is also libellous and questions my integrity as a journalist. It is grossly irresponsible of you to make such ridiculous claims that are not based on fact. I welcome honest debate any time and it is your right to differ from my opinion on how information from China is interpreted. But resorting to slander is irresponsible.
Thank you.

Shaan said...

Mr.Ananth, You must know that you are able write such rubbish only due to the democratic nature of India's society which has always given space for debates. Can you do this in communist China? Everybody knows the intent of the Chinese and also the fact that there are many communist sympathizers in the media who act against their own country.

Matthew Tan said...

Mr. B.Raman,and others here

What Ananth said in The Hindu and here is true. I like to invite you all to the a look at the chinadaily-forum, to get an idea how the Chinese governmnent is pretty relaxed about information control or censorship. Yes, there are sensitive areas as pointed out by Ananth (Tiananmen, Dalai Lama, and Falungong, etc.) But generally, the Governement does not, and CANNOT possibly, vet every article in cyberspace. The Chinese netcitizens and foreigners routinely attack the Chinese Communist Party and Government without fear. There is no retribution for writers unless you write something suggesting AN ORGANISED ATTEMPT TO OVERTHROW THE PARTY.

Please visit this English forum site and get a feel of the freedom of Chinese cyber writings.

http://bbs.chinadaily.com.cn/forumsub.php?gid=2

And I recommend this, which I just read:

PROOFS THAT THE DALAI LAMA HAS ALWAYS BEEN SEEKING INDEPENDENCE
http://bbs.chinadaily.com.cn/viewthread.php?gid=2&tid=647110&extra=page%3D1