The Chinese foreign ministry's latest statement on Arunachal Pradesh, claimed by Beijing, has set off a new round of hostile stories in the Indian press
It is an accepted norm that when bilateral negotiations are on, the conflicting parties do maintain the status quo. Two decades after the Sino-Indian border clashes, during Rajiv Gandhi's premiership, India and China agreed to make a new beginning to resolve all disputes between the two countries.
The basic principle of restarting the negotiations was that the two sides will concentrate on confidence-building measures and will not rake up the more complicated issues like the border dispute. It worked well for over two decades and the two sides built an atmosphere of mutual confidence. In a much better situation, the two countries appointed high-ranking representatives to resolve the border dispute. The 13th round of talks resulted in considerable progress.
Unfortunately, during this period China did not strictly adhere to the norm of maintaining status quo. On several occasions, it issued statements that did threaten the shattering of confidence. The latest is the statement on the PM's visit to election-bound Arunachal Pradesh. In the interest of retaining mutual confidence, China should have avoided its belated statement.
But that does not justify the China-bashing campaign conducted by a certain section of the Indian media. During the last two-three months, certain sections of the media, both electronic and print, have attempted to create an anti-China hysteria. Cooked-up stories of border violations were flashed up. The campaign reached absurd levels. It was so ferocious that the government had to threaten the journalists indulging in it of legal action.
After the government's threat the campaign subsided for a while. Now the statement of the Chinese foreign ministry on Arunachal Pradesh has provided a fresh weapon to these China baiters. There seems to be a certain lobby, most probably the arms manufacturers of the developed countries, who are interested in promoting hostilities between India and China.
The two countries are incidentally the most promising ones in economic development. That is another aspect that needs to be kept in mind while taking a position on the present controversy. It will be in the larger interest of the two countries to avoid such controversies and concentrate on confidence building measures.