Chinese essay sparks outcry in India
By James Lamont in New Delhi and Kathrin Hille in Beijing
August 12 2009 22:23
Indian academics are up in arms over what they regard as provocative incitement of the country’s demise by a Chinese essayist.
“China can dismember the so-called ‘Indian Union’ with one little move!” claimed the essay posted last week on China International Strategy Net, a patriotic website focused on strategic issues. The writer, under the pseudonym Zhanlue (strategy in Chinese), argued that India’s sense of national unity was weak and Beijing’s best option to remove an emerging rival and security threat would be to support separatist forces, like those in Assam, to bring about a collapse of the Indian federal state.
“There cannot be two suns in the sky,” wrote Zhanlue. “China and India cannot really deal with each other harmoniously.” The article suggested that India should be divided into 20 to 30 sovereign states.
Such was the outcry about the article that the Indian government issued a statement reassuring the country that relations with China were calm.
“The article in question appears to be an expression of individual opinion and does not accord with the officially stated position of China on India-China relations conveyed to us on several occasions, including at the highest level, most recently by State Councillor Dai Bingguo during his visit to India last week,” the foreign ministry in New Delhi said in a statement, referring to mutual pledges to respect territorial integrity and sovereignty.
The publication of the article coincided with talks between Beijing and New Delhi over disputed Himalayan border areas. Earlier this year, China held up funding for an Asian Development Bank project in Arunachal Pradesh, an Indian state claimed by China as “south Tibet”. India has also banned some Chinese imports as it tries to protect its economy from the global downturn.
Officials in Beijing and Delhi hew to rival visions of the future, each seeing themselves as pursuing the more durable political and social model of development. The presumption in New Delhi is that China’s unified, one-party state is bound to break down.
DS Rajan, director of the Chennai Centre for China Studies, brought the essay to his countrymen’s attention. “It has generally been seen that China is speaking in two voices,” he said. “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.”
China International Strategy Net is run by Kang Lingyi, who took part in hacking into US government websites in 1999 following US bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade. Sites such as his are part of the Communist party’s strategy to allow nationalism to grow to strengthen its political legitimacy.