Even as the Chinese leadership expects New Delhi to help Beijing over the origin of the coronavirus, it continues to hurt our interests. It’s a typical case of ‘Muh pe raam, bagal mein chhuri’ (Polite in speech with a dagger in cloak).
On March 24, the Chinese ambassador to India, Sun Weidong, tweeted, “[Foreign Minister] “Wang Yi said it’s not acceptable and detrimental to international cooperation to label the virus and stigmatize China, hope India oppose such narrow mindset.” He also made the dubious claim that External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar “agreed not to label the virus and the international community should send strong signal of solidarity.”
But Jaishankar had merely tweeted tritely, “Discussed with State Councilor and FM Wang Yi of #China our working together in combating #COVID19. Agreed to build further on our bilateral efforts in this domain. Exchanged views on the forthcoming #G20 Summit. Global challenges require global cooperation.” Our Foreign Minister did a good job by refusing to verify the claim and indulging in the usual platitudes.
A couple of weeks later, however, China was back to it nefarious designs against us. It stated that the Kashmir dispute was high on the UN Security Council agenda.
The Ministry of External Affairs, in a statement, rejected “the reference to Jammu and Kashmir in a statement made by the spokesperson of the Permanent Mission of the People’s Republic of China to the United Nations.”
Beijing has been regularly vexing India over Kashmir. In January, China wanted a statement from the Security Council over Kashmir. “The consultation ended without a statement or an acknowledgment of the issues, leaving it a bilateral matter,” IANS reported on January 16.
It is not just China that is trying to smear India. A prominent group, Human Rights Watch, carried an article on its website on January 17, saying, “Kashmir has been under a lockdown for five months. Fearing that Kashmiris might protest the revocation of autonomy provided to Jammu and Kashmir state under India’s constitution, the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi clamped down.”
Of course, the write-up didn’t mention that Article 370 was a temporary provision, and certainly not an integral part, of the Indian Constitution that the Modi government had revoked. Such mixtures of truths, half-truths, and untruths are peddled all over the world to malign India.
The HRW article said, “Some aspects of the government crackdown, activists said, almost appear reminiscent of abusive Chinese government practices. Indian authorities have sought to justify their rights violations on the grounds of national security. Maintaining law and order is a critical state function, but it’s necessary to protect civil liberties as it is carried out. India needs to do better in Kashmir.”
Nobody denies that there are rights violations in Kashmir, as also in other parts of India. What the self-appointed champions of Indian Muslims refuse to accept is the fact that the violators are brought to book. Cops and soldiers have been prosecuted and imprisoned for highhandedness.
It is indeed the apogee of moral equivalence to compare Kashmir with the Muslim majority Xinjiang region in China. The Washington Post reported on July 13, 2019, “New evidence is emerging that the Chinese campaign to exterminate the culture and traditions of Turkic Muslim people, chiefly Uighurs, in the Xinjiang region also includes a generation of children and young people. As their parents are hauled off to concentration camps—euphemistically called ‘vocational education’ by the Chinese authorities—the children are being herded into special boarding schools and orphanages. At these schools, the children can check in but they cannot leave. The comprehensive effort to create a separate brainwashing and imprisonment system for children deepens the evidence that China is committing a cultural genocide.”
Up to 1.5 million adults in Xinjiang have been forced into the camps, where China is attempting to reeducate them as part of the Han Chinese majority, wiping out their language, traditions and culture, essentially assassinating their identity, the report added.
Who is opposing this gargantuan outrage? Twenty two democratic countries, mostly Western and Japan. At the session of the UN Human Rights Council last year, they wrote a letter expressing concern about China’s mass detentions in the Xinjiang region and calling for “meaningful access” for “independent international observers.”
And who, pray, is supporting China? As many as 37 nations, including about a dozen Muslim nations; Pakistan is among them. “We commend China’s remarkable achievements in the field of human rights,” said the letter written by the 37 countries. In other words, Pakistan, like many other Muslim countries, commends the nation that describes Islam as a “disease.”
That China was able to garner the support of so many Muslim countries on such a delicate issue (from Muslims’ perspective) is a testimony to its power and influence in the international arena. India has done well by not supporting China on the coronavirus, as evident from Jaishankar’s diplomatic dodging, and later stymieing it mischief at the UN. At a time when the entire world is angry with Beijing, it may be time to up the ante..