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Hindi-Chini bhai bhai

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For now it is all sweet talk as Wen Jiabao visits India. Sify reports on the bonhomie:

The colours and cultures of two of Asia’s most powerful and populous nations merged in a spirit of diplomatic synergy at the spectacular closing ceremony of the festival of China in India here Thursday that was attended by visiting Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The ceremony at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium was the culmination of a series of cultural events and activities held to mark 60 years of the establishment of diplomatic ties between India and China and was also attended by a high-level ministerial delegation from China.

Addressing the packed gathering of 500 guests, mostly Chinese delegates and school children from the capital, Manmohan Singh said: ‘India and China have played a crucial role in increasing awareness about each other’s cultures and civilisation. India and China are two great civilisations that have flourished for thousands of years. The art and the culture and the unyielding quest for progress and development over the last six decades have been the cornerstone of India and China’s foreign policy.’

Even more saccharine was reported by HT:

Disagreeing with Chinese Ambassador’s view that Sino-Indian ties were fragile, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao on Thursday said they were much more “strong” now as compared to three decades back. “India-China relations, if you go by the record of three decades at least, I would, in fact, argue that it has become stronger. That the foundations have become much more stable,” Rao said when asked if she agreed with China’s Ambassador to India Zhang Yan’s remarks that India-China relations were very fragile and required special care.

While addressing a conference earlier this week, Zhang had said that “China-India relations are very fragile and very easy to be damaged and very difficult to repair. Therefore, they need special care in the information age.”

An article in the Economist reveals a backstory that makes me believe that the Indian media in its entirety is towing a government line of no criticism:

Manmohan Singh, India’s usually mild-mannered prime minister, set the tone with a blunt warning in September. He spoke of a “new assertiveness” in China, which he said was seeking a “foothold in South Asia”. Subsequently he shuttled about Asia, promoting a “look east” policy of warmer ties with fellow democracies that fret, like India, about a more nationalistic China.

In October Mr Singh signed a trade deal with Japan and pushed for rapid implementation of an existing one with south-east Asian allies. On December 10th he waved two undiplomatic fingers at insistent Chinese demands that India join a boycott of the Nobel peace-prize ceremony for a jailed Chinese human-rights activist (see article). Ramming home the point on December 13th, India’s foreign secretary, Nirupama Rao, chided China’s ambassador at a public meeting in Delhi. She said her “Chinese friends” should get used to dealing with the “vibrant…noisy, nature of our democracy”.

Ms Rao was responding to the ambassador’s dark warning that criticism of China during a rare visit by Wen Jiabao, the prime minister, to India between December 15th and 17th, could threaten “fragile” bilateral ties. He added that these would be “difficult to repair” if broken. India’s leaders are not in a mood to listen. In Delhi a few hundred Tibetans were left to demonstrate against Mr Wen as he arrived. More striking, the Dalai Lama, their spiritual leader, embarked at the same time on an eight-day trip to Sikkim, a north-eastern state on the border with Chinese-run Tibet. That excursion, like one last year to Arunachal Pradesh—Indian territory claimed by China as “south Tibet”—seemed designed to arouse Chinese ire.

China has certainly been doing its bit to provoke the ire of the Indians. It reportedly sent several thousand soldiers to parts of Pakistani-controlled Kashmir this year, to build roads for its “all-weather” ally. It has denied visas (other than ones stapled to passports) to Indian Kashmiris and to a general responsible for Kashmir, a hint that it might not respect Indian control of the territory.

Ater one finds that a PR firm can wrap the media around its fingers, it is not hard to believe that they all fall in line over a government :suggestion” to kid-glove China.

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Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

December 16, 2010 at 5:21 pm

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