A state run Chinese tabloid, Global Times, a few days back slammed recent reformist agenda of Modi government in India and criticised the November 2016 Indian ban of old currency notes as too harsh an action for a developing economy like India. Interestingly, the same tabloid had earlier praised India, quoting Chinese government, in November 2016 for taking a bold and revolutionary decision of demonetisation. Chinese government had at that time even suggested Modi government to go to the extent of considering suspending almost half of its police and government workforce for corrupt and suspicious activities, to further lend strength to India’s economy. Chinese mouth piece, at the time, drew attention towards similar measures taken by Chinese government to put the Chinese economy on a fast pedestal in a similar fashion and with good results.
This U turn of Chinese propaganda machine is not new. It should be noted that the same tabloid almost regularly slams India and Indian government’s policies on one or the other issue. It is clear from the given state of press freedom in China, that these India targeted articles, put in this fashion, are directly conveying the messages which Chinese government wants to convey to either India, rest of the world or more importantly to its own people. It is interesting to know about what motivates Chinese government to direct the fabrication of such confusing and ambiguous messages through state run media.
It is no secret that Chinese government uses its media and propaganda machine to prove the point that Chinese government and its policies are the best in the world when it comes to good governance and larger public good. More so they tend to compare their own economic conditions and achievements with those of the larger democracies like US and Germany to bring home the point that Chinese communist government can only provide better future to its people and therefore tend to legitimise their communist rule. They have been doing it for a very long time when it comes to countries as mentioned above. Off late when India recently snatched the ‘fastest growing large economy‘ tag from China after a long running same tag to China for over a decade, the Chinese government got worried not only about its own economic future but also of the possible democratic uprising in China itself due to what is happening in its own neighbourhood. It started becoming more cautious about India and its progress which has the potential to swing the public mood in China towards democratic rule.
Now when in the last quarter, India’s growth rate slid down unexpectedly and temporarily in short run, China immediately seized the opportunity to slam India and its economic policies and conveyed a strong message possibly to its own people that China has the better economic future than India in spite of the grim facts facing China. It only shows the weaknesses of the Chinese government which is immensely fearful of its own political future and fearing its economy is likely to continue to slide down for a longer time to come, as it seems from all current macroeconomic indicators.
As for India, the country and its people are as confident as ever about their future and are ready to support the democratically elected Modi Government. In fact Modi’s personal approval rating has never been as strong as it is today. Indian press being immensely freer than that in China is also supportive of current Indian Government policies and have reaffirmed their confidence in the healthy growth of the country in foreseeable future. Therefore any Chinese propaganda of this type only seems to be meant for their own home consumption rather than for India or elsewhere.
The question is – why Chinese government is so worried about the views of its own people? Is it perhaps that Modi Ji and his successes in India are becoming more noticeable in China in general? If so an interesting point which emerges from this constant slamming of India’s policies by Chinese government in recent times also indicates possible growth of popularity of Modi Ji and India’s progress among Chinese public who seems to be constantly and increasingly following what is happening in India and its economy and is probably starting to dream of ‘India like individual freedom’ for Chinese people, if India indeed succeeds economically and continues to do better than China.
Remember what happened in Nepal when Nepalese public overthrew it monarch. This situation also reminds of the ‘Jeans War episode’ of the cold war period when many erstwhile Soviet states found its public was liking and purchasing US or Western made worker’s clothing mainly Jeans, at any cost and which became a widespread fad in the bloc. Blue Jeans were smuggled into Soviet bloc countries to the dismay of the Soviet Union’s reputation of being an exclusive worker’s world bloc and therefore their own worker’s clothing was supposed to be the best in the world. Although Jeans were made as worker’s trousers in the west, it went on to become the fashion statement even in the Soviet bloc.
So in conclusion it may not be impossible that Chinese government is becoming wary of the possible uprising of Modi Wave in China which may even destroy the Chinese communist government and result into a democratic and resurgent China where Chinese public can enjoy real individual freedom and its real economic progress.