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My Take
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 October, 2013, 1:55am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 October, 2013, 1:55am

China can learn soft power from India

If you only know one country, you don't know any country. Many people in Hong Kong have a one-dimensional - and negative - view of the mainland. But if you go to India, you will find they have a far more complicated and nuanced view of China. However, if you visit China, you will find most mainland Chinese have little or no interest in India. For comparable interest, most mainlanders, or at least those with professional and educational aspirations, look to the US.

There are, of course, many similarities between the two countries way beyond the superficial comparison of democracy and one-party authoritarianism.

This was a topic I recently discussed with my friend and author Chandran Nair and Pankaj Mishra, the famous Indian intellectual; and also the subject of one of the Post's most commented-on articles.

"Many Indians think they can learn from China's development model," Nair once told me.

Mishra argues the Chinese state may be more responsible to, say, the country's tens of millions of farmers, than India because the latter's market-driven reform and electoral mandate could justify their neglect and exploitation. He questions whether its democracy is more formal than real.

Read any Indian newspaper and it is full of stories comparing every aspect of the two countries, usually in favour of China. For many Indians, China is at once a rival, a threat and a model to emulate.

Infrastructure and public transportation are a perennial favourite comparison. China is way ahead. Software development? India is far ahead. Government efficiency? Well, many Indians actually admire the policy efficiency of China's one-party rule. But that's something you rarely see reported in the world media. Corruption? China ranks 80 out of 176 countries in Transparency International's corruption perceptions index while India's rank is worse, at 94.

Both countries have been pursuing aggressive foreign policies, such as building a blue-water navy. India's border expansions were historically far more aggressive from 1948 to 1975.

But India largely gets a free pass while China is scrutinised with its every move. That's India's soft power that Beijing can learn from.

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This article is now closed to comments

sangos
The border agreement and its actual implementation should be an immediate fix for eliminating 'Chinese threat' perception in India. If China wants to hasten the day of its global leadership then it has to win over Asia to its side starting with India. If India is also powerful then more power to Asia. No amount of soft power will deter the West from bad mouthing China because they will never accept its rise to the top. But China has to do much more to be the responsible head of the Asian family. That should be China's focus; forget the decadent West crying sour grapes.
pslhk
The comments of some westerners and their followers
exhibit obsessive repetition of intractable self-delusion
attributable to ignorance and sub conscious quilt and paranoia
They rely on references that contradict their own arguments
-
The primary jurisdiction of international law is the international domain
where it regulates how sovereign states interact with each other
The worst violations are those governing war justification and conduct
Iraq and drones provide a criminal example of Anglo American violation
that represents the latest development of a long western tradition
Indignation when Opium Wars are mentioned is a common symptom of hypocrisy
Westerners in HK fear facing that history although it explains why they’re here
-
In any case, international law is a weak argument
The US, not a signatory to the Mine Ban treaty, used mines in the Gulf War
In 2001 it unilaterally withdrew from the ABM Treaty which it had ratified in 1972
It still refuses to sign / ratify various international treaties
for the protection of women and children and climate and …
The list is lone, and may be epitomized by the US withdrawal
from the International Criminal Court Treaty in 2002
-
Only ignorant fools would use the international law argument
to attempt vilification of China on a “high” westerner moral stand
with the US representing the apex of western standards
likingming
The main difference between the two countries is that most indian could speak and write english ! And soft power is linked to how you express.
caractacus
I am not sure there is an analogy here at all.
If China respected the rule of law, including international law, and ceased its racial and cultural arrogance towards other nations, it would be regarded with a lot more respect, but, as they say, a leopard cannot change its spots.
goncalo
"India largely gets a free pass while China is scrutinised with its every move. That's India's soft power that Beijing can learn from".
The difference between the two countries lies in freedom. Dictatorships don't have soft power.
cardcardso@yahoo.com
****en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Looking_East_to_Look_West:_Lee_Kuan_Yew's_Mission_India
pslhk
Don’t oversell soft power which isn’t exactly the point
India is never perceived as a threat
-
Democracy before industrialization,
integrated politic-cultural education
and the institution of social mobility process
that can sustain a developable governance structure
will leave the otherwise Great S Asia nation
in perpetual difficulties trying to catch up
-
No country has ever been a truer soft power practitioner than China
That’s why Ma yj praised Hu jt for magnanimity
and Lee Ky, Xi jp for courage
Even N Ferguson in his petty minded perspective
discerns resemblance of 臥薪嘗膽
although he can't appreciate the indepth ethos
-
Take 1C2S for example
Until mutation of the city's democratic movement into democrazy
when naive democrats were overwhelmed by scholarism brats
HK had enjoyed unprecedented laissez faire under Beijing’s auspices
cardcardso@yahoo.com
HK laissez faire policy was formulated by the British administration. And Peking is ruining it by constant interferences into HK daily affairs!
kebai
India gets much better international media because it doesn't treat it as an enemy. It doesn't set goons on foreign journalists, it doesn't throw journalists out of the country for reporting truthfully, it doesn't block foreign news services while demanding that its state propaganda be broadcast on foreign TV channels, it doesn't ban all but a handful of foreign movies, it doesn't pretend it doesn't have human rights abuses, it doesn't describe the mildest criticism as a breach of its sovereignty.
These are the soft power lessons China under the CCP will never learn.
cardcardso@yahoo.com
Spot on. India never attempt to sweep their dirty linen under the carpet. eg They are willing to collaborate with CNN to address the slaves problems. They are willing to let the world know of their serious rape issues without any censorship. Not to mention free speech , freedom of assembly, unrestricted access to social media like Facebook and Twitter. That's something CCP PRC will never learn.

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