Kargil and Chinese Media

24 Oct, 1999    ·   275

Raviprasad Narayanan says the coverage of the Kargil conflict in the Chinese media was in favour of Pakistan

The 'Kargil Conflict' between India and Pakistan over Kashmir was fairly well covered by the Chinese media, including the People's Daily, China Daily, Guangming Daily and the Liberation Army Daily. The Beijing Review (Weekly) and the 'Banyuetan' (fortnightly) have also been consulted for this article.



China sees the Kashmir dispute as a legacy from history, which involves many factors like territory, ethnic groups and religion. This necessitates a peaceful solution to the dispute. On the intensifying of the conflict, China had hoped that the two countries would ease the tense situation through dialogue, thereby safeguarding the peace and stability of South Asia and contributing to the prosperity of the entire Asian region.



The deputy chief of the Institute of Asia Pacific Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Sun Shihai, in a fine commentary in the 'People's Daily' of 19 July, 1999 traced the origin of the dispute to the withdrawal of the British colonialists 52 years ago. He states that the dispute over Kashmir is the crux of Indo-Pak confrontation for three main reasons.



1. The foremost difficulty in resolving the Kashmir issue is its important strategic location.



2. Kashmir is a question of national unity for both countries.



3. The Kashmir issue has become a sensitive domestic political issue for them.



Adopting a different line, the 'Banyuetan' described the conflict as the result of a long standing acrimony between the two nations, especially since last year’s nuclear tests and the more recent missile tests. 'Banyuetan' also said that India has long sought to be the dominant power in South Asia , and Pakistan has stood out as the main obstacle to India 's regional hegemony. Lastly, it adds, the caretaker BJP government was using the Kargil situation to divert the attention of the people from expressing dissatisfaction with its rule, prior to the forthcoming elections.



The 'Guangming Daily' commentary of 27 June, 1999, described the ground situation as fast approaching a stalemate, and cautioned India by saying that an expansions of this conflict would draw greater international attention, which was not in India 's interests. The commentary expressed doubts on India 's capability to organise equipment and execute a strategy for a quick and decisive war. The commentary also reported on the low morale in the Indian Army, and shortfalls in the number of troops!



The Liberation Army Daily was the most strident in criticizing India during the Kargil conflict. Two articles, one by Liu Yang on 1, July 1999, and Yang Haisheng on 5, July 1999, while agreeing that Kashmir is an issue left behind by history, attacked the Indian Military action by giving three reasons: 'Firstly, it is a manifestation of Indian thinking that it is a world power, more so after India conducted nuclear tests last year. Secondly, India has been inspired by NATO's air raids on Yugoslavia , and thirdly, the Indian government is making political capital out of it. The strident tone of the article concludes by asking the enemies to settle their differences politically in the interests of the people. 



Yang Haisheng says in his article that India is copying the "policy of power" followed by the US and this has much to do with its strategic ideology of "regional deterrence" and "success of force." He further says that while India has always been thinking of becoming the regional hegemony, "it has added one more content to its military ideology-to stop others from resorting to military intervention against India by making use of ethnic issues while making use of enemy's ethnic issues as its military targets and thereby treading a path of doing to others what you do not want to be done to yourself"! The article further dwelled on India 's arms acquisitions and concluded that India ranks alongwith the military powers of the world. 



Tracing the origin of the conflict, a Liberation Daily commentary of 12 July, 1999 concluded that the "root cause of war and chaos in South Asia been India 's hegemonic ambitions." 



In conclusion, the coverage of the Kargil conflict in the Chinese media was generally in favour of Pakistan . While the 'People's Daily' and 'Beijing Review' was closest to the official line, the Liberation Army Daily and 'Guangming were strident in their criticism of India