Thursday, October 15, 2009

BEIJING: The war of words between China and India intensified on Wednesday with China’s ruling Communist Party accusing India of harbouring “hegemonic” ambitions in South Asia and “provoking” China on the border issue.
In what is possibly the strongest diatribe China’s ruling party has directed at India in recent memory, the Communist Party in two editorials in its official newspapers accused the Indian government of “recklessness and arrogance” and “turning a blind eye” to China’s “concessions” in resolving the long-running boundary dispute.
The remarks come a day after China said it was “strongly dissatisfied” with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s recent visit to Arunachal Pradesh, parts of which China still has claims on.
On Wednesday, the People’s Daily, the Communist Party’s official newspaper, and the Global Times, an English-language paper run by its information department, launched a verbal onslaught on India in their editorial pages. The People’s Daily said India was “obsessed” with a “hegemonic mentality” and “refused to drop the pretentious airs when dealing with neighbours like Pakistan.” Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, incidentally, is currently in Beijing and on Tuesday discussed a highway project in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir with Chinese President Hu Jintao, raising concerns in New Delhi.
Wednesday’s statements underscore how the atmosphere between the two neighbours has fast soured in recent months, and are a stark contrast from the conciliatory positions the two governments had seemed to adopt over the border dispute following the thirteenth round of talks in August. Officials in Beijing and New Delhi spoke of positive progress then.
The People’s Daily, a nationalistic newspaper run by the Communist Party’s propaganda wing, often articulates the party’s positions on foreign affairs in more strident tones than the official positions stated by the Chinese government’s Foreign Ministry.
Alluding to India’s strategic relationship with the United States, the paper said India followed a policy of “befriend the far and attack the near.” It said “resentment still simmered” from India’s wars with China and Pakistan. “If India really wants to be a superpower, such a policy is short-sighted and immature,” it said in the editorial.
The Global Times, an English-language newspaper which often reflects the party’s views on foreign policy and is directed towards an international audience, said India would make “a fatal error” if it mistook “China’s approach for weakness.The Chinese government and public regard territorial integrity as a core national interest, one that must be defended with every means,” the paper said. “The disputed border area is of strategic importance, and hence, India’s recent moves including Singh’s trip and approving past visits to the region by the Dalai Lama send the wrong signal. That could have dangerous consequences.”
The papers also accused India of “ignoring” China’s “concessions” on the border issue, but did not specify what the concessions were.
Indian analysts say China’s positions on the boundary issue have hardened in recent months, with Chinese objections to visits by Indian leaders to Arunachal Pradesh becoming more frequent and strong.
The Global Times also claimed that 96 per cent of the over 6,000 respondents of an online poll on its Chinese-language website said they felt “agitated” by the frequent visits by Indian leaders to the disputed area.

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