India and China on Thursday advocated proper management of public opinion in order to promote bilateral ties. Making identical points on the issue against the backdrop of high-pitched commentaries in both countries, National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon and Chinese Ambassador Zhang Yan stressed the need for a good and conducive public environment for the stable evolution of bilateral ties.
Mr. Menon identified the “shrill and over excitable commentary'' on the relationship that has appeared in both countries in the last year or so. “The emergence of nativist voices and the loud expression of opinion as fact in the new media which purports to express public opinion could introduce volatility in perceptions,'' he cautioned while speaking at a seminar on India-China relations co-hosted by the Indian Council of World Affairs and the Institute of Chinese Studies.
Mr. Zhang hoped that a good and conducive public environment by avoiding the “war of words'' would create conditions conducive to the settlement of historical issues and other differences. Both countries must properly handle public opinion as it is vitally important to the development of bilateral relations, he added.
Navdeep Suri, Joint Secretary (Public Diplomacy) in the Ministry of External Affairs, dwelt on the Foreign Office's outreach programme to the country's youth to inculcate the basics of foreign policy in the young generation which was prone to “nationalist chest thumping.''
Mr. Menon outlined the trajectory of upswing in bilateral ties and felt the time had come for both countries to consider the next steps in the evolution of bilateral relations. They should evolve a detailed framework for resolving the boundary issue in a politically feasible manner and take advantage of the move towards multi-polarity and the financial crisis. “Asia has proved that she can do the economics. Can she also do the politics that come with power?'' he asked.
Mr. Zhang expressed optimism about China-India ties but wanted both countries to urgently focus on enhancing mutual trust and maintaining the momentum of high level exchanges.
Institute of Chinese Studies Director Sreemati Chakrabarti regretted that both nations had unwittingly inherited the nation-state mindset which westernisation and colonialism have brought about.