China's hegemonic ambitions and narcissistic civilisational thought cannot be tempered with diplomacy or engagement; It is a constant motivation India must account for.
The only reason for the intransigent trajectory of the two most powerful Asiatic nations — India, and China — is the latter’s deliberate takedown propaganda of the former’s progress at any costs, even as it talks peace. The worst part is the disgusting Chinese disregard of human suffering during the coronavirus pandemic it has afflicted on others.
Weibo — a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) knockoff of twitter — published a post on 1st May which hurt millions of Indians in these testing times. The post reads: Lighting a fire in China vs Lighting a fire in India (Image below, courtesy BBC).
From this post, it is crystal clear that China’s impression of India hasn’t changed since 1962. There is a sense of superiority rooted in their mindsets which manifests in this post — where a rocket module launch is compared with cremation in India and captioned: “Lighting a fire in China vs Lighting a fire in India”. It clearly shows China’s degenerate attitude and incivility even in this dire situation. It should come as no surprise. China, after all, believes in a dictum popularized by Deng Xiaoping: “It doesn’t matter whether a cat is black or white as long as it catches mice”. Here, they caught the misery of Indian people. In other words, they must have felt a sense of achievement, even schadenfreude. Journalist Aadil Brar put it succinctly: “Not even dead are spared.”
But it didn’t reap fruits this time. The published post was deleted immediately due to a backlash by netizens. Under such a situation, when Hindustan Times asked the Chinese Foreign Ministry, he cunningly dodged the matter coyly by saying “Regarding the relevant picture mentioned in your question, we currently cannot find it on the relevant Weibo account.”. The Chinese have had to eat their words, and swallow their misbegotten pride. Rather poetically, the rocket launch shown in the picture failed as well.
Yesterday’s China and Today’s China: A Paradox
This particular derogatory post appeared a day after President Xi Jinping exchanged a message of condolence to Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the ongoing second wave corona pandemic in India. Then, why such a post? It underlines the hypocritical and dichotomous nature of the Chinese Government where they say one thing but do another. History bears testament to China’s hypocrisy. When Prime Minister Modi and President Xi met in Astana, the former said that the two sides should tap the potential in cooperation and respect each other’s core concerns. Even the latter reciprocated by saying that two sides should increase communication and handle disputes and problems.
After few days, a nasty Pandora’s box was unleashed in Doklam where the Indian Army was forced to respond to Chinese encroachments. How can one repose trust in China after such repeated infractions? Above all, China is well established as a country with scant respect for agreements, be it bilateral or multilateral. They don’t care about the international community unless it serves their ambitious goals. To sum it up, when Chinese authorities smile, beware of their next action.
China Tries to Resurrect its Tarnished Image
The Covid-19 pandemic has created unprecedented chaos in modern memory. Despite all arguments, it originated from Wuhan, China. Nobody denies it except the Chinese Government. The sharp decline of the global economy, the loss of more than 3 million lives, and the ongoing second waves in many countries have seemed to tarnish the image of China globally. Will China ever be able to resurrect its reputation in a post-covid world? The answer to this question, to my mind, seems very difficult. India, despite its challenges, still manages to help neighbors through “Vaccine Maitri”. This effort from the Government of India has set an amazing example. China, on the other hand, started its vaccine diplomacy. But I wonder how successful it would be given the notoriety of China’s own “One Belt One Road (OBOR)” initiative and its debt trap policy. For instance, Sri Lanka leased Hambantota port to China for 99 years after failing to pay the debt incurred from the OBOR initiative. Nobody can certainly say this vaccine diplomacy doesn’t become another debt trap for subservient nations. After all, many economists believe that China is pursuing a “Boomerang Economic Policy” which is highly aimed for profit in return from the investment. Most appallingly, Chinese vaccines themselves are being blamed for being ineffective by countries which trusted it.
With the corona pandemic and its hard policies, I doubt there could ever be a way to resurrect their tarnished image. On top of that, China’s “Hard-Power” is more pervasive than its “Soft-Power”.
It is High Time to Understand China
The most unforgivable lie in the history of mankind is China’s denial of the coronavirus’ origin. Let us revisit what Dr. Li Wenliang warned about the coronavirus and the consequences he faced thereafter. On 30th December, he warned his fellow doctors in a group chat to wear protective clothing to avoid infection. He was later warned by police to stop spreading rumors. This novel virus then killed 636 and infected 31,161 people in mainland China. When it started spreading, the Chinese Government has already planned to cleanse rumors about its origin. This lie — the most unforgivable lie in the history of mankind — is the reason behind all the misfortunes that happened during this pandemic. Will China be forever forgiven for this lie?
There is a popular notion that even Chinese citizens are not understanding what their authorities are thinking. Let alone us from outside. But one certainty persists. Their strategy is deeply mingled with their civilizational thoughts. In their minds, no country can ever be treated as an equal in front of China.
Even in the pandemic situation, the Chinese Government has left no stone unturned to showcase their hegemonic desires. When India was struggling with the coronavirus crisis, Chinese soldiers intruded into Ladakh and led to casualties on both sides. Today, as India is struggling with the second wave of Coronavirus, Chinese site Weibo intentionally posted a picture aimed at denigrating the image of India among Chinese netizens. One Chinese netizen went the extra mile by commenting on the post: “China: sending people to space. India: sending people to heaven”. This comment represents the majority of Chinese people’s understanding of India. If this is common people’s comment, then what about the People’s Liberation Army’s comments made some years ago: “Learn from 1962 defeat and stop clamoring for war.” Why is China taking all these pathetic measures to showcase their superiority? Is it because China wants to flex its economic muscles? Or is it intentionally disturbing Indians in this dire situation?
Today’s China is never the same as yesterday’s China. China never keeps promises no matter what happens. It is all about their ambitions. Hence, let us not fall into China’s trap at any cost. Whenever China comes up with measures to humiliate you, just ignore and never react. When you react, they feel vindicated and further spew similar things. However, one of the secrets they don’t talk much about is their 50 cent army. They are responsible for propagating false things around the world and which in turn benefits China’s ascent of “Sharp-Power”. It should remember, however, that sharp blades cut their master just as well as his enemies.
(Yeshi Dawa is Former Academic Administrator of ILG at the Maharaja Sayaji Rao University, Baroda. He is currently an Affiliated Fellow at the Tibet Policy Institute and Anchor at Tibet TV. Reach him through us at firstname.lastname@example.org)