STICKS and stones may break bones, but what about a bizarre video? China’s state-run media has lashed out at India over a border dispute by posting a racist video. But it may have backfired.
A tense standoff between China and India in the Himalayas has been escalating in recent months. Soldiers from the two sides earlier this week hurled stones and insults at one another high in the Himalayas in Indian-controlled Kashmir.
Now Xinhua, Beijing’s formal state mouthpiece, has escalated the war of words.
It’s posted a propaganda video against India which portrays the Asian power as a bunch of bumbling, hairy idiots.
But one analyst says the video is so bad, it may actually end up doing India a favour by highlighting China’s ignorance and bigotry.
Complete with canned laughter, the “7 Sins of India” explainer video — presented in English for a Western audience — mocks a stereotypical Indian (portrayed by a Chinese actor wearing a fake turban and beard) while painting an aggrieved and one-sided picture of events in the disputed border plateau.
It mockingly accuses “thick skinned” New Delhi of trespass, violating convention, not knowing right from wrong, hijacking Bhutan and sticking to its mistakes.
“Didn’t your mumma tell you, never break the law?” the female presenter appeals.
Sadanand Dhume, an analyst at American public policy think-tank AEI, has highlighted the video’s place in the growing feud between China and India.
“To me the Xinhua video is more amusing than offensive,” he writes in an AEI blog.“It also happens to illustrate a point I make … the ongoing border standoff shows that China has absolutely no intention of treating India as an equal.”
Mr Dhume says Beijing has chosen not to deal with the border issue as a legitimate dispute between neighbours. Instead, it has “has chosen to dismiss or mock New Delhi’s concerns that Chinese road-building on the Doklam plateau … changes the status quo in a way that India cannot afford to ignore.”
At the heart of this attitude, he says, is China’s explosive economic growth.
Many Westerners see India as a pluralistic democracy with an independent judiciary and free media that has been making significant progress in recent decades, he says.
But China sees something different.
Mr Dhume says Beijing believes India to be evidence that democracy does not work in developing countries.
“The Chinese know little about India, but what they know is not positive,” he says.
As with the South China Sea, Beijing’s assertive action in staking its border claims are behind the fresh tensions with India.
The two nations fought a brief war over the Himalayan boundary in 1962.
But the building of a military-grade road through disputed territory in an effort to assert its own border claim at the junction between India, China and Bhutan has revived these decades-old tensions.
Both sides have recently reinforced the numbers of border troops assigned to the disputed area.
Earlier this week, Chinese soldiers hurled stones while attempting to enter the Ladakh region near Pangong Lake but were confronted by Indian soldiers. Indian soldiers retaliated but neither side used guns.
AP reports an Indian intelligence officer as saying the confrontation occurred after Indian soldiers intercepted a Chinese patrol that veered into Indian-held territory after it apparently lost its way due to bad weather.
After nearly 30 minutes of facing off, the two sides retreated to their positions, he said.
In Beijing, foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Chinese troops sought to avoid confrontations and said India should “make tangible efforts to maintain the peace and stability of the border areas between the two countries.”