No editorials, no chest-thumping: Chinese media adopts deathly silence after India-China border meet

Strange, isn't it?

After a month full of tensions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC)- the effective Sino-India border in Eastern Ladakh, the two sides held an unprecedented, Corps Commander level meeting to defuse tensions. Beijing, already on the backfoot, replaced the ground forces right ahead of the meeting.

The seven-hour long meeting was watched closely by Indian media. New Delhi is said to have pushed for a return to the “status quo as of April”. But there is stony silence in the Chinese state media which otherwise remains very enthusiastic about extending threats of another 1962-like expedition against India.

In fact, the Chinese state media has given little coverage to the border stand-off both before and after the three-star generals meeting between the Indian Army and the People’s Liberation Army of China.

Till now, China Daily, the biggest English-language newspaper in China and People’s Daily, Communist Party of China’s (CCP) mouthpiece have completely glossed over the Sino-India border standoff in Eastern Ladakh. Between them, they have published only editorial since May 5 when tensions started building up between the Indian Army and the PLA. No opinion pieces have been published thus far.

China’s state-owned TV news network, China Global Television Network (CGTN) too hasn’t covered the stand-off or the Corps Commander meeting extensively. The coverage of these state media outlets about India has revolved around warning New Delhi against aligning with Washington.

The only state media outlet in China that has actually covered the stand-off is Global Times, a Communist Party of China (CCP) mouthpiece. It has not carried an editorial till date, but has written six opinion pieces, all of them exhibiting Beijing’s meltdown following New Delhi’s increasingly assertive approach along the Sino-India border.

Global Times suffered a major meltdown on Friday, a day before the three-stars generals level meeting between the two countries. It wrote, “As China has made clear its friendly policy toward India, India should return the favour instead of being fooled by the US. Since we do not fear US suppression, how can we allow some force to use US support to make trouble for China?”

The stress was again on warning India against cooperation with Washington. It also stated, “With China-India cooperation, India will enjoy a peaceful international environment. But if the two countries face a showdown on the border issue, the entire Himalayan region and the Indian subcontinent will face instability.”

But after the Corps Commander-level meeting, Global Times too fell silent, and all it could manage was tweeting a bizarre video. The CCP mouthpiece stated, “Several thousand soldiers with a Chinese PLA Air Force airborne brigade took just a few hours to manoeuvre from Central China’s Hubei Province to Northwestern, high-altitude region amid China-India border tensions.”

The video is bizarre- one can see PLA’s “terracotta warriors” getting their boarding passes stamped and moving into a passenger aircraft in order to move towards the Sino-India borders. Unsurprisingly, all of them are wearing facemasks as they are travelling from the site of the Chinese virus origin- China’s Hubei province.

Still others are travelling the distance of 4,282 kilometres by rail and road. These troops too are wearing masks even though China claims to have got rid of the Wuhan virus.

For all the aggression that China showed at the Sino-India border, all that its state media managed was a subtle and predictable threat of a poorly organised military movement. Global Times wants to threaten us with unacclimated soldiers mobilising against an assertive Indian Army at heights of around 14,000 feet or even more, above sea level.

Meanwhile, Beijing wants the people of China to forget that the stand-off even happened. The Chinese Communist Party has mysteriously resorted to censoring the ‘China India border confrontation’ hashtag on Weibo which had garnered 30 million hits.

Thus, the Chinese state media has fell silent and the CCP has killed the conversation about the confrontation on a heavily regulated social media environment. Beijing was the aggressor, while India had stood its ground. Ideally, the Chinese side should have been vocal about the stand-off and the meeting. But it seems that Beijing doesn’t want to show that it has been given a bloody nose and cut to size by New Delhi’s counter aggression.