The border dispute between India and China is over the 3,488 km long LoAC. China claims Arunachal Pradesh to be the southern part of Tibet while India says it is an integral part of the country. Sources said, meanwhile, that the Narendra Modi government is going to gradually increase the heat by projecting Tibet as a separate nation occupied by China, revising the Nehruvian position. To that end, the government has planned separate news broadcasts for Tibet, a first in the history of independent India.
The All India Radio (AIR) aka Akashwani broadcast a commentary on the “unnecessary transgression” of the PLA troops at the LoAC last Thursday. It will now onwards broadcast news reports, commentaries and various other snippets on the Indian and China relations and put forth New Delhi’s views in Mandarin between 5:15 PM and 6:45 PM IST.
PLA had invaded Tibet on 7 October 1950, capturing the town of Qamdo (Chamdo) on 19 October that year. Tibet requested military assistance from India, which, under the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, assured it of no more than a safe haven for their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, under the condition that his people and he could not indulge in anti-China activism in the otherwise democratic country. The Dalai Lama referred the Chinese invasion to the toothless United Nations on 11 November 1950, but nothing came of it.
Until recently, New Delhi would detain Tibetan refugees as and when a Chinese delegation visited to prevent trouble in abeyance of the Nehru-Dalai Lama agreement or in the thrall of China. The scenario is set to change, albeit tentatively as of now.
Information and Broadcasting Ministry sources said that the decision to put India’s word across to a Chinese audience “came from the top” Wednesday, a day after news broke of the violent face-off between soldiers of both armies that left 20 Indian soldiers dead at the border. So far, the New Delhi, and in line with that, AIR’s Chinese service, have been largely silent about the tensions at the LAC, even as disengagement talks at multiple military and diplomatic levels were underway throughout the period.
The Chinese service instead continued to broadcast its usual content such as cultural talks, music and developmental content among others.
Even AIR’s News Service Division (NSD) had no special broadcasts on the situation in Ladakh until 10 June, except for one mention to the corps commander-level talks on 6 June.
A senior AIR official, however, said that this was not unusual and the External Services Division (ESD) of the broadcasting service has always carried commentary by various experts and that topics change from time to time depending on what is going on.
On Thursday, AIR through its Chinese service, said that China had tried to change the status quo along the LAC.
“The incident in Galwan came along with a series of border incidents that have been rattling regional security since the Chinese troops transgressed in Naku La in Sikkim, Pangong Tso and Galwan areas in Ladakh since 5 May,” said the commentary, which was broadcast in China.
It added that while the Naku La incident has been de-escalated, innumerable incidents of fisticuffs and stone-throwing erupted in the Ladakh region when China’s troops and military equipment were placed on the Indian LAC.
“While the LAC has not been defined, and is a matter for the Special Representatives of the two countries to discuss, both sides had agreed to maintain the status quo on the border,” the radio service said. “However, in violation of the status quo agreement, China had brazenly conducted a series of unwanted activities on the Indian borders.”
It further said that China had been “transgressing along the boundary unnecessarily”.
Broadcast details ‘other intrusions’
Detailing other “intrusions”, the radio report said “Chinese troops had “intruded” at Depsang Plains between 15 April and 6 May 2013, in the Ladakh sector.
“Subsequently, China’s troops transgressed at Chumar in September 2014 coinciding with the visit of President Xi Jinping to New Delhi. Chumar in the Western sector also witnessed another major transgression in September and November of 2015,” it added. “China’s transgressions in Barahoti in the Middle Sector of the border in May 2016 surprised India as it was generally acknowledged that this is the least disputed area.”
Referring to the Doklam incident of June-August 2017, it said the 73-day stand-off was in violation of China’s commitment to maintain status quo position with India as mentioned in the 2012 Special Representative meeting, but also it’s undertaking with Bhutan on similar lines.
“The fact that more such incidents happened later suggests that China’s strategy is to unilaterally change the status quo in the border areas,” it said.
“In 2017 and 2018, Tuting and Dibang incidents occurred in the border areas of Arunachal Pradesh, while in 2019, a stone throwing incident was reported from Pangong Tso,” it added.
Broadcast ‘highlights’ China’s border infra work
AIR also highlighted that China has been building a number of infrastructure projects like roads, railways, airfields and fibre optics in Tibet and Xinjiang and that Beijing also has been trying to change the local dynamics for facilitating transfer of its troops to the LAC.
“China has been constructing underground defence networks and other military facilities in the border areas. This has substantially changed the regional dynamics as mentioned by India several times,” the AIR broadcast said.
On the latest violence at the Galwan river, AIR said the incident comes in the background of the serious violations by China of the bilateral agreements with India.
“A series of confidence building measures (CBMs) were made since the flag meeting at Chushul in Western Sector in 1978. These include the 1993 Peace and Tranquillity agreement, CBMs in the military field in 1996, the October 2013 Border Defence Cooperation Agreement — these all have laid down specific procedures to address border transgressions and prevent conflict between the troops,” it said.
“However, the killing of 20 Indian Army personnel upsets all the institutional arrangements assiduously built over decades. Moreover, the incident revived memories of violent clashes in 1962, 1967 and 1975,” it added.
It also mentioned PM Modi’s message on Wednesday on the Galwan incident.
The AIR broadcast will also be broadcast on the Tibetan service, which traditionally broadcasts commentaries on Buddhism, Tibetan Culture among others.
AIR’s Chinese service
Started in 1942, the Chinese service, which operates under the ESD, is a daily broadcast in Mandarin that is an hour and 15 minutes long, beginning at 5:15pm IST. It is also live streamed through the AIR application.
The ESD broadcasts news bulletins and programmes in 28 foreign language services for the foreign audience across the globe through long-range short-wave and medium-wave transmitters. It is considered a major tool of public diplomacy and global outreach to about 150 countries.
While many other foreign language services — such as the Urdu service that is heard in Pakistan — have broadcasts dedicated as counter-propaganda programmes, the Chinese service has no dedicated news features or programmes of its own and borrows content from the News Services Division of AIR, apart from limited commentaries and snippets on China, cultural shows, Indian music, talks and developmental content, among others.
AIR’s news service division broadcasts domestic and international news across various networks.
Chinese radio propaganda
As reported last year, Chinese radio signals have increasingly stepped up propaganda not just within the Indian territory, but also to strategic neighbours such as Nepal and Myanmar.
These sensitive areas receive loud and clear Chinese radio signals, which drown out India’s meek signals delivered by old and worn-out short-wave and medium-wave transmitters. However, there have not been very significant efforts from India to strengthen India’s transmission.
The state-owned China Radio International (CRI) broadcasts in several Indian languages, including Hindi, Tamil and Bengali.