The Chinese media continued its scrutiny of the contentious citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in India and its nationwide protests
The Chinese media continued its scrutiny of the contentious citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in India and its nationwide protests. In the first half of December, during which the CAA was enacted, the Chinese media stories focus area were the Northeast protests. In the second half, the media widened its area of coverage to say that the protests were now countrywide.
Apart from Northeastern states, the protests held in different cities of Uttar Pradesh was covered with great detail. China’s media outlets gave special attention to the student protests happening across different universities in opposition to the CAA. The media in its reports criticised the Union government over enacting the CAA and the way the protests were handled. The word which was used repeatedly by the Chinese media to describe the CAA were, ‘controversial’, ‘discriminatory’, and ‘religious discrimination’. For the Modi government words which were majorly used were, ‘anti-Muslim’, ‘repressive’, 'hard-liner’ and ‘Hindu-nationalist’.
One striking thing which was noticed in the Chinese media coverage was that it was critical about the coverage of protest against CAA in the Western media, especially in Europe and the USA. In their coverage newspapers such as Global Times and People’s Daily expressed their displeasure over the hype created by the Western media while covering the issues related to ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region compared to that of the anti-CAA protests. In its editorial dated 17-12-2019, Global Times termed Modi government as "lucky" as there has been very limited interference by the West in matters related to India’s ethnic and religious affairs. The editorial alleged that the Western media follows a double standard while covering the issues related to minorities in India and China. The reason was given by the editorial for this "double standard" was because the USA cannot see a "rising China".
Internet shutdown is another topic on which the Chinese media criticised the coverage of the Western media. In its reports, the Chinese media said that India has been frequently using communication shutdown to curb the protests. In the editorial Global Times mentioned that India has 134 of the total 196 documented shutdowns in 2018. The People’s Daily, China Daily and Xinhua news agency, time and again mentioned the internet shutdowns which were ordered by various state governments across India for managing security and law and order during the CAA protests. In its report, People’s China mentioned about the internet shutdown imposed by the Chinese government two years ago in the Xinjiang for security reasons was criticised heavily in the mainstream media of Europe and the USA. The People’s China supported India on using the internet shutdown to manage its law and order. The news report in the People’s Daily concluded that nothing is above national security and sovereignty. It should be left to the discretion of the country’s government on managing its communication including the internet.
Several media houses in China are keeping a close eye on the protests and the coverage it is receiving in international media. China is comparing the treatment given to the news stories related to minority issues in its own country and in India. It is doing so to build a narrative that the Western media has been biased against it.
(The researcher can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)