By Dang Jianjun
Recently many in India hype the China threat" as a way to disturb normal diplomatic relations between China and its neighboring countries. Some British and Japanese media also have attempted to sow discord between China and India by cooking up the "China threat" theory. But these were not the first times such statements have appeared, and they surely will not be the last.
After former Indian Air Force chief Fali Homi Major said last week that India faces a greater threat from China than Pakistan, Indian media began conducting a hot debate about the "China threat". Some media claimed that China may pose the biggest external security threat to India.
The new round of "China threat" emerging in India is closely connected with the eradication of the Tamil Tiger rebels by the Sri Lankan government. Those who hyped the "China threat" claimed that China provided the Sri Lankan government with weapons in order to increase its influence in Sri Lanka. A number of British and Japanese media subsequently advocated "China threat" to India, asserting that China is building a circle around India and predicting that the two countries may have an arms race in the future.
"China threat" theory has always been popular in India. Many Indians believe that the Indian Ocean is India's domain, and therefore South Asian countries neighboring the country are its little brothers. Interactions between these countries and any other big powers will incur suspicion from India. India usually misinterprets China's normal diplomatic exchanges with these countries as an attempt to encircle it.
China should face such "China threat" claims calmly. Despite friendly ties between China and India, there still are some different opinions about Sino-India relations. This new round of "China threat" in India demonstrates that, in many countries, there are groups of people who are still suspicious about China's development. No matter what actions China takes, it will arouse suspicion and even hostility from such groups.
The "China threat" theory has affected some countries' policies toward China but not the normal exchanges between China and these countries. To a large extent, the "China threat" theory is more like a weapon used in public opinion and psychological wars as an attempt to influence China's international diplomacy.
Frequently emerging "China threat" theory reminds us that we need a more complete and comprehensive strategy in winning the world's public favor. We need to give prompt and appropriate responses amid these public opinion and psychological wars.
The best way to respond is to "pay the opposite side with its own coin". We can respond in various ways such as by making official statements and by communicating with the world via media reports and experts' interpretations. The purpose of such responses is not to change the views of the opposing side, but to reduce and even offset the influence of their remarks and opinions to enable the international community to hear China's voice and to create a favorable atmosphere of public opinion for China's diplomacy.
(China.org.cn translated by Zhang Ming'ai, June 3, 2009)