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Market demands drive Indian coverage of China

August 26, 2013

By Global Times

Editor’s Note: The First China-India Media Exchange Program kicked off on Thursday. This four-day dialogue, co-hosted by the Global Times Foundation and the India-based Observer Research Foundation (ORF), gathered media professionals and scholars from both countries to engage in extensive talks. Why does the Indian press trust Western media more than Chinese media? Should journalists be responsible in thinking of the wider picture? These issues were hotly debated.

Chilamkuri Raja Mohan, columnist for the Indian Express and expert on strategic research at ORF

Indian media and Indian people are always expressing five “sentiments” about China – India admires China’s rapid rise; both countries are having an important influence over Asia and the world; India is trying to learn from China’s economic growth; Indian people are yearning to find more opportunities in China; and India is scared of China’s rise, especially its swelling military strength.

In the last 25 years, the increasing exchanges between India and China, as the first four sentiments indicate, have brought back to life a lot of unresolved issues, such as border issues, which induces the fifth sentiment.

Media professionals hold a discussion over reporting of Chinese media and Indian media Thursday. Photo: Liu Zhun/GT

Media professionals hold a discussion over reporting of Chinese media and Indian media Thursday. Photo: Liu Zhun/GT

Lan Jianxue, deputy director of the Center of South Asian Studies, China Institute of International Studies

Chinese and Indian media have a complicated influence over the intertwined Sino-Indian relationship. A single media report is capable of causing immediate deterioration in the bilateral relations. Although such an effect is not decisive, the functions of both sides should still be strictly defined.

Indian media’s reports are becoming more ambiguous, groundless, garbled, ratings-oriented and Western-source-dependent when reporting China. Media should not only be a reporter, but a contributor to positive influence. This is also a requirement for Chinese media professionals.

Both sides should be aware that although conflicts and divergences are not their responsibilities to address, the value of media is embedded within how to promote the process to ask for balanced resolutions.

He Shenquan, director of the Opinion Department, Chinese edition of the Global Times

Selective reports cannot be avoided. How can you expect the Chinese media to be thoughtful and considerate to the needs of its counterpart in India, and vice versa?

China and India, though starting to reveal more cooperation in bilateral relationship, are facing competition, and this competition will become increasingly grave.

Besides, media should not assume the responsibilities that need to be taken by the government, and it is also too much to ask media professionals to have a general outlook for bilateral relationship.

Media reports, by their very nature, have to be selective and one-sided, and they mainly have a negative influence on diplomatic relationship.

Thus, what really matters is not what the media reports, but how the readership, including ordinary people and the government authorities, views these reports.

But media professionals should stick to one and only bottom line: truth. Stories cannot be made up.

Ashok Malik, journalist and columnist of The Times of India

A recent survey shows that only 9.5 percent of China reports in the Indian media are negative, 4.2 percent are positive, and the rest are neutral. However, this seemingly positive result is distorted because negative reports are more likely to occupy the front pages, while the rest are not.

This bizarre situation is caused by the “guiding force” of the media industry, which is the readership. Media, especially newspaper, have to prioritize readers.

As for India-China relations, national security and border issues are what both Chinese and Indians care about the most. Indian newspapers are also catering to the taste of its readership.

Besides, an incomplete understanding of Chinese society is also one of the causes of some inexact reports.

Wang Lei, journalist of the International Department of the People’s Daily

Indian media is overly influenced by Western media and their ideology in reports. The Indian media, most of which is privately owned, is too inclined to get news sources from major Western agencies, such as Reuters and the Associated Press.

That is part of the reason why the Indian media maintains a similar approach to those Western media on China issues.

Such inclination has already formed in a subtle and unconscious manner. I think both sides should build their mutual trust first in business.

Why couldn’t Indian media start to get news resources from Chinese news agencies and presses if they want to cover China? This economic drive can be a reciprocal bridge that makes Indian newspapers more balanced and diverse due to different voices about China. Read more in Global Times.

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