Vyjayanti Raghavan, Professor, Centre for Korean Studies (CKS), School of Language, Literature and Culture Studies (SLLCS), JNU, Delhi
This article is based on the news reports in the mainstream media in South Korea during the period August 21- September 6, 2020.
As expected what got the maximum coverage was the India-China border conflict. Chosun Ilbo of 21st August reported it as “From Sticks to latest fighters …. the endless border dispute between China and India” where the focus was on the appearance of two Zen 20 stealth fighters at the Heten Air Force Base in China’s Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. It was reported that satellite images showed them placed side by side at the base which is 320 km away from Aksai Chin region, where the two countries are in border dispute. The report also mentioned the deployment of 5 Rafale planes by the Indian forces in Ladakh.
Another media site called Newsis.com, reported on August 25 China builds air-defence missile base on the Indian border- ‘S300 Hungchi 9 deployed. It was reported that China had built an air defence missile base on the China-India-Nepal border to deploy a new surface to air missile. The Chinese claimed that this missile greatly improved the detection capability of air threats from India. The report also stated that as India had increased its troops by 35000 in the border area, China too was increasing its artillery and tanks – raising concerns of a military conflict. Yonhap News of August 26 reported India laying military roads near border dispute because ‘We don’t trust China!’
Yonhap News of August 30 reports Xi Jinping to strengthen Tibetan Border Security because of ‘conflict with India.’ The report quoted President Xi making this statement while addressing the Party, and the political and military leaders at the 7th China Communist party Central Tibetan Affairs Debate held in Beijing on August 28th and 29th, respectively. Xi emphasized that along with the border disputes the Tibetan Separation Movement is a major issue with India. He said “We need to strengthen political and ideological education for the residents, and focus on the reunification and protection of the motherland and national unity”. He added,” Education on the history of the Communist Party and new China, Reform and Opening, Socialist Development, Tibet and China relations should be deepened”. Xi further added, “We must strengthen ideological and political education in schools to achieve the spirit of patriotism in the whole process. We must plant seeds of love for the Chinese people in the hearts of all youths.”
The Yonhap News of August 31st reported India sends Warships to South China Sea right after the border conflict in June…. Stimulating the Chinese nerve. The AjuKyongje News on 1 September reported Another Clash between India and China at the border…… Is anti-China public opinion in India getting stronger? The media report of September 2 of Newsis, reports Indian troops move to Northeast China borders…. Another international angle of IndiaChina conflict that found reportage was: the August 23 report of Yonhap news, Crack in China-Russia Honeymoon? Xi emphasized that along with the border disputes the Tibetan Separation Movement is a major issue with India. ‘Possibility of expanding conflict’, whereas Hankook Ilbo of the same date( 2 Sept.) reports, China-India Conflict boils due to Corona Crisis.
Meanwhile, other international angles of conflict that found reportage were: the August 23 report of Yonhap news, Crack in China-Russia Honeymoon? The news reports Russia stalling the sale of S-400 surface to air missiles to China since 2018, and continuing to do so now stating the Corona virus as the reason, while it agreed to sell the same (S 400) to India now. This report cited reports in China which stated that this was happening despite Russia and China cooperating closely recently because of Covid-19 and despite the leaders from both the countries having met 30 times since 2013. It is said that there were comments of disappointment such as “If you’re fighting an enemy and your friend handed him a knife, how would you feel?” in the Chinese social media.
It also reported that the Chinese had been upset with Russia for the Tweet by the official of the Russian Embassy in China on 2 July, celebrating the 160th Anniversary of Vladivostok, which the Chinese claim as theirs and claim that it was forcibly taken by Russia from Qing China in 1860. In the background of all this, the fact that Russia agreed to the sale of fighters to India soon after India’s border clash with China on 15 June has not gone down well with the Chinese.
Reports on the economic front included that by Chosun Ilbo on August 25, as Joining anti-Chinese solidarity India also abandons Huawei. The Global Biz-24 of August 27 reports, Alibaba temporarily suspends investments in India due to rising conflict between China and India. Chosun Ilbo of September 2 reports, ‘Lower the dependence on China ‘- Japan-Australia-India strengthen supply chain cooperation. This also The Chosun Ilbo report stated that the sanctions imposed by the Indian government were hitting hard the Chinese tech. companies. found reportage in Aaju Kyongje of September 2 as Japan-India-Australia in one voice –‘ Departing from China Supply Chain!’
Chosun Ilbo of September 3 reported, India Blocks 118 Chinese-made apps, including ‘battleground’ developed by South Korea. The Gukje News of September 6, reported India’s domestic and American IT companies on the overtaking-lane following India’s ban of Chinese Apps. The report stated that the sanctions imposed by the Indian government were hitting hard the Chinese tech. companies. At the same time the report raised concerns whether the Indian domestic and the American tech. companies will be able to compete with the Chinese ones.