While India is battling the Coronavirus pandemic and resisting Chinese aggression on its frontiers, Indian newspapers are shamelessly peddling Chinese propaganda to Indian readers. After the Hindu glorified Chinese narrative in a bid to change public opinion against the campaign to boycott ‘Made in China Products’, The Hindustan Times has now given editorial space to Chinese mouthpiece China Daily.
The national newspaper carried a four-page supplement by China Daily, starting from the 8th page. However, unlike The Hindu, it carried a disclaimer, “This supplement, prepared by China Daily, People’s Republic of China, did not involve the news or editorial departments of Hindustan Times.” In the first page of the supplement, China’s massive infrastructure project on its second-longest waterway was highlighted and how it was improving people’s lives and raising incomes. An article titled, “Market hub buzzes despite downturn” emphasised on how ‘dual circulation’, as proposed by Chinese government would boosted foreign trade.
In the second page of the supplement, the Chinese mouthpiece focused on the youth and how the young minds from China are actively working with the United Nations on a global stage to make an impact in underprivileged countries. Similarly, in the 3rd and 4th page, it lay emphasis on how China is preserving its culture across centuries while not compromising on its development.
While one may be wondering about the purpose of such articles in an Indian newspaper, the objective is to emphasise on China’s primordial focus on development and strategies to revitalise its economy. It also shows Chinese firm resolve to empower its youth and preserve its culture and heritage. The paid content is a subtle exercise of ‘soft power’ to change public perception from a villain to a role model.
The Hindu mints money by publishing Chinese advertorial
On the 1st of October, The Hindu ran a full-page advertorial paid for and planted by China. The paid content appeared on the 3rd page of the paper. Interestingly, the paid content by China that was published by The Hindu on Page 3 did not appear on the digital website of The Hindu.
The beauty of the paid content was that to an untrained eye, the full page article seemed like just that – a feature on how the world was wrong about mighty China and how, on the National Day of the People’s Republic of China, it was time to re-evaluate what “bhakt media” was saying about the country and look towards all its achievements. However, upon closer examination, it becomes clear that the full-page feature was content paid for by China.