Global Times, often called the mouthpiece of Beijing, has strongly criticized India’s leading news agency, Asian News International (ANI), for allegedly fabricating think tanks and journalists to produce anti-China and anti-Pakistan news.
The Chinese state-run media’s report references an investigation by the independent non-profit organization EU DisinfoLab, aiming to “expose” a huge disinformation network allegedly spreading anti-China and anti-Pakistan narratives.
GT has levied accusations against India’s leading news agency, alleging that it has relied on quoting several non-existent organizations, journalists, and bloggers to disseminate disinformation aimed at attacking and tarnishing the reputations of China and Pakistan.
Chinese experts quoted by the media have claimed that the investigation report reveals a deliberate endeavor by India or the Indian media to construct unfavorable narratives targeting China and Pakistan.
They further suggest disseminating fake news is a diversionary tactic from domestic issues and the government’s performance.
According to Global Times, EU DisinfoLab’s investigation report titled “Bad Sources – How Indian news agency ANI quoted sources that do not exist” has purportedly disclosed the “anti-Pakistan/China influence operations.”
ANI’s editor, Smita Prakash, took to Twitter on February 24 to respond to the report, dismissing it as “defamatory and false.”
Global Times, a tabloid often criticized for its alleged dissemination of propaganda on behalf of Communist China, cited opinions from Pakistani and Chinese experts who claim that China and Pakistan have consistently been the targets of a disinformation campaign orchestrated by New Delhi.
The China and Pakistan-based experts claimed that New Delhi’s disinformation campaign allegedly targets various topics related to the China-India border region, such as the border issue between China and India and China’s negotiations with Bhutan.
They added that the campaign reportedly aims to discredit China’s Belt and Road Initiative and the construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
However, Former Indian Ambassador Anil Trigunayat (IFS Retd) shared his perspective with the EurAsian Times on China’s mastery of Grey Zone Warfare.
Drawing from years of personal experience witnessing diplomats and foreign journalists being closely monitored in China, Trigunayat believes that the commentary published by Global Times serves as a diversionary tactic from the genuine issues rooted in China’s hegemonic security policy and assertive “wolf warrior” diplomacy.
Ambassador Trigunayat suggested that the visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Washington and the growing proximity between India and the US may have “rattled” China. “It is their perception, and one can’t help it,” the Former IFS added.
India, China Engage In Mutual Expulsion Of Journalists
Chinese media has also alleged that the Indian government imposes restrictions on Chinese journalists, limiting their access to India and denying them the ability to report on the real situation in the country.
The allegations presented by Global Times against the Indian government come at a time when the Chinese government has recently asked the last Indian journalist (Press Trust of India reporter) to leave the country by the end of this month.
Beijing and New Delhi are engaged in a tit-for-tat scenario, expelling journalists from each other’s countries, further exacerbating the growing divide between these prominent Asian economic powers.
With the departure of the PTI reporter, India’s media representation in the world’s second-largest economy will be completely erased.
Earlier this year, Indian media outlets had four reporters based in China. However, the Hindustan Times reporter has recently left the country. In April, both journalists from public broadcaster Prasar Bharati and The Hindu newspaper were denied visa renewals by the Chinese authorities.
Similarly, the Indian government declined to renew the visas of two journalists from Xinhua News Agency and China Central Television.
In early June, the Indian government explained that Chinese reporters had been operating in the country without significant difficulties. However, the situation for Indian journalists in China appears to be quite different.
They have faced obstacles and challenges, including visa-related issues and restrictions on their reporting activities.
The visa dispute originated a few months ago, stemming from Indian journalists in China hiring local assistants to support their reporting efforts, as indicated by Indian officials.
In response, Beijing implemented restrictions, limiting employment to a maximum of three individuals at a time, chosen from a pool provided by Chinese authorities. In contrast, India has no specific limits on hiring such assistants.
The strained relations between Beijing and New Delhi can be traced back to a deadly clash along the Himalayan frontier in 2020.
While China has attempted to separate the border dispute from the overall bilateral relationship and focus on trade and economic ties, India has emphasized that a return to normalcy hinges on resolving the border issue.
As a result, the border dispute continues to cast a shadow on the broader engagement between the two nations.