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Chinese essay on India sparks outcry

August 15, 2009

JAMES LAMONT, in New Delhi and KATHRIN HILLE, in Beijing
The Irish Times
August 13, 2009

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 have 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.
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