THE INDIAN EXPRESS: A New Platform for Chinese Political Propaganda on Tibet?

The Indian Express issue of July 19, 2016 carried a full page Chinese political propaganda titled as (TIBET TODAY) and this was second time in my knowledge as a regular reader that this esteemed newspaper is used as a platform for Chinese propaganda. China spends millions of dollars annually for its political propaganda to spread false information on Tibet and Tibetans. But China knows well that the magazines, movies, journals, newspapers and exhibitions which Beijing produce do not enjoy wide public acceptance and readership outside of China no matter how colorful and well-designed they are for the obvious lack of authenticity and reliability of information which they present. In the recent past through direct and indirect means, China tries to have more access to popular news Medias in the world for its propaganda and image projection. For instance, a Chinese tycoon with close tie to the Chinese Communist Party tried to buy The New York Times at least few times promising a staggering price but failed due to official intervention from the US government.  Last year Jack Ma bought the South China Morning Post (SCMP) at $375.6 million and he explicitly mentioned that it is to offset China’s bad image in the western Medias. No surprise! When it comes to image, China behaves like a low self-esteemed person with acute look obsession.  It’s sad though that a plastic surgery cannot be done to a nation’s image.

It must be clear by now that why China chose The Indian Express as a medium to spread its propaganda and false information on Tibet and Tibetans living under Chinese colonial rule as being always happy and rapidly developing. The Indian Express is one of the most respected and read newspaper in the India and the benefit of having an access to a single page in it is much more than hundred issues of China Daily or Xinhua News. When a national newspaper like the Indian Express carries Chinese propaganda materials on Tibet to its wide circle of Indian and international readers, something sad is done to a people living under occupation and subjugation. Image of Tibet and Tibetans in TIBET TODAY of Indian Express is far from the ground realities of Tibet. What about the self-immolations, the restrictions on freedom of religion and expression, forced disappearance of people and ecological destructions in Tibet? Such things are happening in Today’s Tibet.  But where are those images and stories? Silence!

In one of story, the Chinese Ambassador to India was seen talking to a group of Tibetans who visited Chinese consular office to get the permission to visit their families back in Tibet. In his talk to the Tibetans, the Ambassador expressed his “hope that all the patriotic Tibetans in India would abide by Indian laws, respect local customs and live in harmony with local residents, making a positive contribution to the China-India friendship”.  First I thought the Ambassador was being satirical about the behavior of his country with India but actually it turns out to be not, it’s another classic case of hypocrisy with Chinese characteristics. Before asking the Tibetans to respect laws and customs of India, he should have told his comrade Xi to give an order and stop all illegal activities on Indian border and if he cares so much about India-China friendship then why China blocked India’s well deserved entry into NSG or UN Security Council for that matter. To be very humbly honest, neither China has the legal authority nor a moral right to ask Tibetans to do this and that in India because we know far better than a Chinese what we are expected to do in this land.

The Indian Express being such a sought after and influential newspaper can go on without selling its pages to an expansionist colonial power whose aim is to whitewash its wrongdoings in Tibet. No money comes today without paying a price especially if it comes from China to cover on Tibet. The price The Indian Express is paying is not its pages but it’s principles as a Journalism of Courage; the courage to tell the truth and expose the false. Those important people working in Indian Express should know that they are making money at the cost of the principles of the paper as well as at the cost of a people suffering foreign occupation and exploitation. What dignity and delight are there in making money that way?

More than being a Tibetan, I am writing this piece as regular reader of the paper which is my favorite. As a reader and admirer of the paper, I deeply care about its contents and its future. I don’t want The Indian Express to become another mouthpiece of a power hungry authoritarian regime. I hope as a regular reader, I have the right to express my sadness. Therefore, I sincerely request the amazing team of Indian Express to stop publishing Chinese political propaganda on Tibet. Without a pinch of doubt, I can say that The Indian Express as a newspaper too precious to publish groundless Chinese political propaganda.

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Palden Sonam

Palden Sonam is a postgraduate in East Asian Studies and observes Chinese politics. In free times, he writes articles, poems and take photographs.

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