Controversial news composite images: on the left is the moment of ignition of China’s Long March 8 launch vehicle, and on the right is the cremation of the remains of the dead from the new coronavirus in India
As India’s new pneumonia epidemic continues to spiral out of control, with 22 million confirmed cases, more than 240,000 deaths, and two-thirds of the world’s new cases diagnosed every day, there has been a public outcry over a news composite image that was published on China’s official social media as an alleged satire of India. The incident has not only exposed nationalism, but also cast a shadow over India-China relations once again.
Controversy over composite images
In the controversial composite image, the Chinese Long March 8 launch vehicle is lit on the left, while the cremated remains of the dead from the new coronavirus are shown on the right in India. The image is titled “China ignites vs.
The latest data shows that the outbreak of NCCV in India is out of control, with hundreds of thousands of new cases diagnosed every day. Some analysts believe that the huge population of India, in addition to facing the further spread of the epidemic, there is also the risk of virus mutation, so it is very difficult to bring the epidemic under control in the short term, coupled with India’s own weak health care conditions, making it even more difficult.
The composite image, which was posted on the official microblog of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China’s Political and Legal Affairs Commission’s news website “China Chang’an” earlier this month, was interpreted by netizens as a message from the Chinese media that China’s epidemic is under control and has the capacity to launch rockets, while India’s lack of efforts to fight the epidemic has led to the death of a large number of people. Opponents say it is “extremely inappropriate” for the Chinese media to publish such a picture at a time when the epidemic in India is heating up, with some describing it as “cold-blooded, heartless and inhumane.
In addition, the official microblogging account of the Public Security Administration of the Chinese Ministry of Public Security, “China Police Online”, also uploaded a composite picture of the “Vulcan Hill Hospital” in Wuhan and the cremation issue in India together, with the words “Delhi, India The image was illustrated with the words “Delhi, India, has converted dog crematoriums into human crematoriums”.
Hu Jia, a Beijing-based rights activist, told VOA that the handling of official microblogs such as “China Chang’an” is puzzling because the outbreak in Wuhan and other places last year is still fresh in the minds of many Chinese who went through that painful phase, with many bodies left untouched in hospitals.
The Communist Party’s “Knife Handlers”
“China Chang’an.com is considered “an important online propaganda position, information dissemination channel and public opinion guidance platform for the national political and legal system,” and reportedly has more than 15 million followers.
Hu Jia said: “In China, the Political and Legal Affairs Commission is the sword, the Central Military Commission is the gun, and the Propaganda Department is the pen. This knife handle is actually the most important system for internal control. We face what public security, state security, judicial prison departments, procuratorates, courts, all under the jurisdiction of the Political and Legal Committee. The strictest control of this country are of this system. Their top department’s command model is very cold-blooded and brutal, with upside-down values, without any humanity and basic moral integrity. With such values, what tactics will it take in its internal rule?”
In addition to the controversial composite image, the Communist Party of China’s Political and Legal Affairs Commission’s certified account also posted a video on its website criticizing India, saying that China provided 20,000 oxygen machines to India free of charge, but India “returned the favor” and accused the Chinese Defense Ministry of doing something at the border.
Hu Jia believes that the conflict between China and India should not be a reason to satirize India. He said, “It cannot be denied that there is a border dispute between China and India, and there have been clashes between the two armies, but the new crown virus as a global disaster transcends the dispute between the two countries, and if India cannot overcome the difficulty, China can hardly be left alone.”
India is the world’s most populous democracy. “The New York Times quoted an analysis that said India’s image as a poor third world country is sometimes used as a negative example by China to defend Beijing’s authoritarian governance and the so-called “Chinese development model.
Reluctant to be compared to India
According to Fang Tianchi, deputy director of the India Center at Tsinghua University in Hsinchu, Taiwan, interviewed by Voice of America, China also has a mindset that does not want the West to compare China with India. He said, “China has an arrogance mentality. I am better than you, better than you. If you compare China to India, it rather undermines China’s more arrogant position. They are rejecting the thing. Because India has a relatively more democratic and free media. Usually at such points in time, China’s reaction is more intense. When a series of controversies come out, the international media scrutinizes India-China relations.”
The day before “China Chang’an” released its “electric firefight”, Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a condolence message to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the new epidemic in India and expressed his personal condolences to the Indian government and people, expressing China’s willingness to strengthen cooperation with the Indian side in fighting the epidemic and to provide the Indian side with anti-epidemic cooperation and provide support and assistance to the Indian side.
Fang Tianzhi said, “This time Xi Jinping has expressed special condolences on the epidemic. He mentioned that he had sent his personal greetings on his behalf. To some extent, Beijing officials also recognize that the image of China as a whole, including its leaders, is rather negative now, so it needs to be properly reversed. At this point in time, any such thing could further deteriorate the already fragile (Sino-Indian) relations. The Indian public will feel that now it is India that is in a difficult situation and you have to deliberately take advantage of me, and of course this backlash will be even more violent.”
Different voices in the system
The “China Chang’an” composite picture incident also led to a heated debate between Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the official media “Global Times,” and Shen Yi, a scholar at Fudan University. Shen Yi affirmed the Politics and Law Commission’s microblog and sarcastically referred to opposing voices as “holy mothers”. But Hu Xijin, who is known for inciting nationalism, was the opposite. He said that the accounts of official institutions should hold high the humanitarian flag and put Chinese society firmly on the moral high ground, which he believes is the proper attitude and performance of any official Chinese institution.
Speaking to VOA, Feng Chongyi, an associate professor of Chinese studies at the University of Technology Sydney, said there is reason to believe that the composite image has caused much controversy within the Chinese Communist Party, as evidenced by the swift deletion of the microblog. It’s not only against universal human values, it’s also against some of the basic morals of the Chinese people since ancient times,” he said. There are a lot of people who are unhappy about this internally, including people from the propaganda mouth who think it’s too much. Such different voices, different opinions, have always existed in Chinese society, only because the cadres of the propaganda mouth, the net police are stuck very tight, it was deleted and extinguished. In this matter you can see that these net police use this way to express their disapproval, their disapproval of Xi Jinping and these followers of Xi Jinping’s thugs.”
Feng Chongyi condemned the CCP’s propaganda machine for sacrificing China’s international image in order to stir up nationalism. He said, “International image comes second in the eyes of these followers of Xi Jinping. The first place is to show the style of a great nation, the majesty of a great nation, and the international image of Xi as a political strongman, that I am powerful beyond measure, that China is rejuvenating as a nation, that it is realizing China’s Chinese dream, and that all other neighboring countries should bow down.”
Propaganda armies accused of being unscrupulous
Speaking to the New York Times, Ma Xiaoyue of the German Marshall Fund Research Institute said that, ultimately, the main target of Chinese political propaganda is the common people at home. Scholar Feng Chongyi denounced this propaganda army as often unscrupulous in its efforts to achieve its goals.
Feng Chongyi said: “It has cultivated a group of talents with Hitler’s SS class or, as you call him, fighters or, for the whole world, to the surrounding areas, the destructive are very big, for example, in 2019 Hong Kong’s anti-sending in the movement, it mobilized the public sentiment of the entire China, to take all these people on the streets of Hong Kong as cockroaches, all to be exterminated, or shouted ‘Leave the island, not the people’ slogan, kill all of you, get rid of all of you, treat all Hong Kong people as traitors, and want a second reunification for Hong Kong. Just rely on nationalism to be the most important spiritual pillar of the party, like Xi Jinping described, there are many enemies overseas to contain China and not let China rise, and need eloquent leaders, like Xi Jinping, who can completely scrap some of the achievements of the reform, like the two terms of office system also, and establish a totalitarian power framework based on Xi Jinping’s personal cult as the goal, and its spiritual pillar is nationalism. “
Hu Jia, a Beijing-based rights activist, believes the fiasco has exposed a side of the Central Committee of Political and Legal Affairs that is not well known to the public. He said, “The CEC is not a blessing. It will allow the international community, it will allow the wider public in China to see this department, how they think in their heads, how they see the global New Crown disaster. This time by no means just annoy India, which is deeply caught in the vortex of the new crown, but the whole civilized society, societies with universal values with basic humanity, will be extremely disgusted, and they will thus realize what kind of role these ruling departments, these organs of state power have in China.”