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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Perception of China not a media creation: envoy

August 5, 2010

Ananth Krishnan
The Hindu
August 4, 2010

Public perceptions in India will always be
"coloured" by how China treated India's "core
interests," Indian Ambassador to China S. Jaishankar said on Tuesday.

"If there is an image of China with the broader
public, it is tested against what the public
believes are the core interests of India," Mr.
Jaishankar said in an interview with China's
official State-run broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV).

The Indian Ambassador's comments were made in the
context of the increasingly prevalent view in
China that the Indian media's reporting of China
was entirely to blame for the souring of
relations last year. A number of articles in
China's official media have in recent months
blamed the Indian media for creating negative
perceptions of China, as well as of the direction
in which bilateral relations were heading.
"Indian media hype cross-border spat," was one
typical headline, appearing in May in the official Global Times newspaper.

But Mr. Jaishankar made the point on Tuesday that
China needed to understand the independent nature
of the Indian media and how it functioned. "We
have a fiercely independent media," he said.
"They pride themselves on the fact that they make
their own judgment and they are people of great
integrity. When people suggest that we can guide
the media better, it shows a lack of
understanding of the Indian media." Chinese
officials had, last year, called on the Indian
government to "guide" the media to give more
"positive" coverage of bilateral relations amid the strains.

Respecting each other's core interests was also
crucial to creating better public perceptions,
Mr. Jaishankar stressed. "Core interests," he
noted, was becoming a fashionable term in China
-- the phrase has found increasingly regular
occurrence in Beijing's diplomacy, usually a
coded reference to China's "non-negotiable"
interests in Tibet and Taiwan, as well as to its
sovereignty and territorial integrity.

"India too has its own core interests," Mr.
Jaishankar said. "Public perceptions will always
be coloured where another country stands vis-à-vis India's core interests."

Indian officials have made the point to their
Chinese counterparts in recent meetings that
Beijing's recent positions on one of India's core
interests -- Kashmir -- has remained a source of
tension, and mistrust, in the relationship.

Last year, Indian officials voiced their concern
at China's policy of issuing stapled visas to
Indian citizens from Kashmir -- a move seen as
China questioning India's sovereignty. China also
recently signed a $525 million deal to help
Pakistan build highways in Pakistan-occupied
Kashmir (PoK), another move, Indian officials
said, that violated a "core interest" of India's.

The two countries agreed on the need to respect
each other's core interests during National
Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon's recent
visit to Beijing as the Prime Minister's Special
Envoy. But a clearer understanding of both
countries' interests, as well as a mutual
acceptance of how legitimate those interests
were, was needed, officials said, to deal with any persisting mistrust.
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