China Daily carries article by Indian ambassadorMay 31st, 2008 - 2:29 pm ICT by admin
By Pranay Sharma
New Delhi, May 31 (IANS) In an unusual gesture, India’s ambassador to Beijing Nirupama Rao has written an article in the China Daily, the mouthpiece of the Chinese government, to highlight the help and support extended by India to China in the wake of the Sichuan earthquake of May 12 and the growing ties between the two Asian neighbours. The article published Friday on the op-ed page of the daily is significant as it comes less than a week before External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee is scheduled to visit Beijing to hold talks with the Chinese leadership to strengthen bilateral ties. Mukherjee will be in China June 4-7.
“As ambassadors we have all written pieces in newspapers of countries during our various postings. But I am not sure how many Indian ambassadors have written for the Chinese newspapers during their tenure in Beijing,” former Indian diplomat and an old China-hand Vinod Khanna told IANS Saturday. “I am glad that they have allowed Nirupama to write her piece.”
In the article titled “A neighbour and a friend in need”, the Indian ambassador referred to the $5 million assistance offered by India to China for relief activities for the victims of the earthquake.
“Realising the need to deliver timely help and supplies to the survivors, many of whom had lost their loved ones, and their homes and belongings, the first plane-load of relief supplies was ferried to Chengdu in an Indian Air Force flight from Guwahati in northeastern India, barely three hours away in terms of flying time, on the afternoon of May 17,” Rao wrote in her article.
The ambassador added: “That first flight and subsequent flights by the Indian Air Force on the 19, 21, 22, 23, 24 and 28, brought urgently needed items like tents, sleeping bags, blankets, ready to eat meals, and medicines, among other items. The supplies were handed over immediately on arrival at Chengdu to officials of the Sichuan Civil Affairs Bureau, who are engaged in relief efforts, and transported to the affected counties.”
She also highlighted the significant contribution made by the various Indian companies working in China for the earthquake relief work and also that of Indian firms in Beijing.
The fact that Rao highlighted the number of sorties made by the IAF planes to China is significant. Though China has accepted aid from other countries like Japan, it has not allowed their military aircrafts to enter Chinese airspace.
“It is very unusual for an Indian ambassador to write for the China Daily,” Srikanth Kondapalli, chairperson of the Centre for East Asian Studies in the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, told IANS. “A number of ambassadors have addressed Chinese thinks tanks and written articles for their publications, but rarely for the China Daily,” he added.
According to him, the fact that she was either invited or allowed to write her piece clearly showed that it had the full support of the leadership in Beijing. “Only articles that are of strategic importance are published in the China Daily,” he added.
The fact that China Daily is read mainly by the English speaking readers and is meant to address the people outside rather than those within China, shows that the leadership in Beijing was trying to send out a signal to other countries about the growing ties between China and India.
The external affairs minister’s visit to China is taking place at a time when a number of anti-Chinese articles, especially about its military build-up and perceived “incursions” within Indian territories have come out in sections of the Indian media.
“Our friendship with the Chinese people stretches back over thousands of years. It is our belief that we can further consolidate our ties of partnership of men, women, and the children whose lives have been so tragically impacted by the May 12 earthquake,” the Indian ambassador wrote in her piece.
“The brave people of Sichuan have won our hearts with their courage and fortitude. We share their sorrow,” she added.