Bilateral Communication Practices Between China and IndiaHow Misperceptions May Cause Tensions<br />center2400300Heather MuellerJune-July 2010centerbottomIndia and China’s Communication Practices<br />Executive SummaryThis report will analyze the bilateral communication practices between India and China, and how misperceptions may lead to increased tensions. Specifically, the report assesses communication practices between India’s and China’s government and military, and the general populace of civilians. The report’s key findings include: <br />
Many Indian leaders perceive the competition zero-sum terms; if one country increases its influence and presence in the region, the other country is an automatic loser
Many Chinese leaders do not perceive India as a threat, and are confident in China’s military abilities
There have been few sustained and successful diplomatic attempts to resolve bilateral tensions and improve communications, and current agreements need to be solidified
Misperceptions lead to increased tensions if they are not effectively addressed between government officials and military personnel and successfully communicated to the general populace
It is crucial to form a mutual understanding between the militaries and governments of India and China by increasing cultural and economic transactions and encouraging constant dialogues
Many civilians in India have a negative attitude towards China’s growth, while many civilians in China have a positive attitude towards India’s growth
Neither country agrees with the other’s perception of where the border should be drawn, a chief source of ongoing misperception and friction
Constant close interaction between strategic and foreign policy think-tanks in India and China, if continued, could improve relations
Introduction<br />India and China are two large rising powers in Asia competing for a new international status. Both countries want to communicate their ideas internationally to maximize power and influence over others. This could pose a problem because both countries are competing for the same international influence, power, land, and resources. <br />Leaders in India and China need to establish a foundation of effective communications to improve bilateral relations. A long-lasting relationship between countries needs effective communications to correspond their needs and wants, and work out multifaceted conflicts. A strong foundation incorporates a proactive approach to improving relations that is vital for any successful relationship. This foundation should have a positive and encouraging environment that allows for open communications, with reciprocity and understanding of information. It is necessary to establish this foundation of effective communications if leaders in China and India want to further their relationship with each other while resolving current and future conflicts. <br />The ability to communicate effectively may lead to a new mutual perception between India and China. Talking with intent is a critical action that these two countries can strive to achieve to further successful relations. If both countries are willing to openly discuss important issues and topics, it is likely to form mutual perception between India and China. To have a mutual perception means one or more parties understand each other’s ideas and beliefs, and may even share many of the same beliefs. It involves trusting the other parties, viewing them as equals, and being open and willing to collaborate with each party’s needs and wants. Each party must have a positive, supportive attitude that is communicated to the other parties involved. This mutual perception can then lead to mutual understandings between the leaders of India and China, and ultimately the general populace of both countries. The only way to form this mutual understanding is to increase transactions between countries, which may include discussions, meetings, and workshops, or any exchange seen fit.<br />Many Indian leaders believe if one country succeeds the other fails. Indian leaders perceive the competition in zero-sum terms, “believing that as one country increases its influence and presence in the region, the other country is an automatic loser.” Indian leaders are concerned about China’s growing influence and perceive China’s “expanding influence as a constraint on its own objectives and interests.” On the other hand, Chinese leaders are overall indifferent towards India’s growth. China presumes that “India is the only Asian country determined to resist China’s preeminence in Asia by developing a full spectrum of economic and military capabilities.” However, Chinese leaders are not concerned with India’s abilities surpassing their own. It is apparent that Chinese and Indian leaders do not perceive the other as equal, which hinders bilateral communications because of the inability to form a mutual perception.<br />Due to the fact that China and India are neighboring rising powers, it is crucial for them to form a mutual understanding. General Wu Quanxu, Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the PLA, and Lieutenant General Mohinder Singh, Commander of the fourth Corps of the Eastern Military Region of the Indian Armed Forces, both believe that “cooperation is the only way to ensure common prosperity and the fundamental interests of the people of India and China.” Increasing the extent of communications and transactions between cultures will strengthen the foundation for peaceful relations. Mutual perception is key if both countries are ever to cooperate and resolve tensions. <br />History<br />Historically, Sino-Indian relations were strong, anchored by a mutual perception. Their relationship began when China welcomed with enthusiasm the arrival of Buddhist missionaries, and “initiated a wave to bring Indian Buddhist monks and scholars to help teach, explain, and establish Buddhism firmly in China.” China accepted and assimilated India’s original ideas from the Sanskirt literature into their own ideas, institutions, and morals of daily society. Sociologists use the term Sanskirtization to represent the cultural borrowing of the “complex inter-relationship between the man with himself and with the rest of the world, as well as the concept of the soul and its reincarnation” that was embedded into Indian culture. This cultural borrowing showed that China was willing to form a mutual perception with India, which ultimately increased communications between the countries. <br />After the 10th century, the relationship between the countries began to suffer. With a decline of Buddhism in India, and a rise of Confucius ethic and Tao School in China, both countries separated their views on religion. Many Chinese people did not approve that China had been sanskiritized for 2000 years by India, and wanted to “achieve independence with new social and historical sciences to achieve rapid liberation.” Chinese leadership limited contact with Indian leadership, which hindered economic and political developments. It became clear that India and China no longer held a mutual perception, which halted successful communication practices. <br />Since emerging as modern states, relations have been less peaceful as when both countries held a mutual perception. After an era of cordial relations in the 1950s based on mutually held anti-imperialist beliefs, the two states fought a war in 1962 over disputed border areas. China sent troops to “convey to India that its inflexibility on negotiations over disputed Himalayan borders,” must change. India’s sense of entitlement to those northern regions made India “inflexible in its territorial dispute with China, setting up a contest of wills between governments.” Leaders strived to find a resolution at the Simla Conference in 1913; however border discrepancies were not resolved because a solution was never formally documented. The ambiguities regarding the border agreement left it open for interpretation, causing misperceptions to form. Later, the Chinese government failed to recognize the agreement, and strived to restore the original borders that China had originally recognized. Border talks between India and China continued to fail, and relations steadily deteriorated. India was deeply humiliated, no longer trusted China, and remained skeptical about China’s intentions, all of which served as significant barriers to communications. China insisted that the war was a self-defense counter-attack, yet did not directly strive to resolve tensions between India. It became evident that implementing another diplomatic solution was essential.<br />India’s nuclear weapons tests in 1998 continued to hurt relations, particularly when Indian leaders did not clearly communicate the reasons for testing. The current Prime Minster A.B. Vajpayee wrote “a secret letter to the heads of G-8 nations, accusing China of posing a nuclear threat to India, and having committed ‘armed aggression’ against India in ’62.” Indian leader’s secrecy kept Chinese leaders uninformed about their intentions, and left it up for interpretation. Chinese leaders did not know if India was initiating warfare, or testing weapons, and to be safe perceived it as a threat. Moreover, the secrecy left many Indian and Chinese civilians uninformed, which lead many people to fear what they did not know about the other country. <br />Misperceptions Causing Tensions<br />Misperceptions arise from miscommunication. Miscommunication occurs when one side does not communicate enough information, or the information is misinterpreted. Misperceptions often lead to fear because many people fear the worst outcome and believe it to be true. In miscommunication, “the mind will fill in the missing information with its own creative insight,” which is often-fear-based and filled with insecurities. People often believe assumptions as truth because our minds also need logical explanations to events. Lacking information, “our minds switch to a fear based mode where we have to satisfy our need for answers with that of assumption.” This is why both parties in any conflict must remain open to additional possibilities without adopting a certain truth. Both parties need to acknowledge any assumptions and fears as only one possibility, and a decision cannot be made until all possibilities are evaluated. By doing so, one “prevent miscommunication conflict form happening. Danger typically rises due to tensions, so if tensions are subdued, then there is less threat to both countries.<br />The boundary dispute between India and China is the biggest issue causing tensions because “neither country agrees with the other’s perception about where exactly the line should be drawn.” This dispute has continued for more than four decades, and it is unclear if either side is willing to compromise. Many Indian leaders believe that “for all China’s professed desire to find a peaceful and mutually acceptable solution, the country has not budged from its more than three-decade position.” Regardless of the frequent meetings of special personnel and representatives of both countries on the issue, neither party can agree on a decision. Since neither country is willing to collaborate on the issue, it prolongs tension. Intermittent frictions along the border could continue to hinder confidence-building measures, as well as the search for a sustainable solution to the border disputes. Consequently, both of these issues have the potential to detrimentally affect other aspects of the Sino-Indian relationship. The Chinese and Indian militaries make periodic incursions into the disputed territory, which often have unclear intentions. India and China’s inability to understand the other’s perception hinders effective communications because to resolve a problem, there needs to be a mutual understanding of the issue. The inability to clearly understand each other is a result of exposure to different teaching and aspects of the world, and the inability to compromise.<br />Many Indian leaders fear China’s vast capabilities, and feel the need to match if not overcome China’s military. In May 2009, the highest policy making body for security matters ordered a mandate to “find ways of enabling India’s military to take on an increasingly powerful (and belligerent) China.” By boosting naval, air, and land forces, India can posture forces on the border – arguably the location in which military confrontation is most likely. The aim is to relieve Indian’s anxieties about China’s rising power, but may augment tension between the two countries. While increasing their military capabilities, Indian leaders need to communicate to China’s leaders why they are expanding to differentiate from offensive and defensive actions. <br />India’s military modernization program may lead to an increased rivalry between the two countries. Indian analysts still believe that China’s intentions can never fully be trusted, and that India must prepare fully for any sort of attack. Maj. General Sheru Thapliyal stated “until a visible change is demonstrated by China, there is no excuse for any Indian Government to ignore or soft-pedal the imperatives of strong defensive preparations along the India-Tibet Border.” “India needs to consider whether or not it can afford the consequences of a potential confrontation from China,” and how damaging that could be to both countries relationships. Defensive attitudes and preconceptions will not aid in the development of good Sino-Indian relations if both countries hope to cooperate to achieve a mutually beneficial outcome. India needs to be mindful of the fact that “military preparedness and trying to improve diplomatic relations are not necessarily mutually exclusive.” <br />A common tendency among many governmental officials in India is to exaggerate the threat of China’s growing influences. Government branches concerning infrastructure protection and the Indian military often “emphasizes or exaggerates particular threats to obtain budgetary resources.” The media reports on the same exaggerated threats, which spreads the misguided information. This creates a fear among the Indian people who may believe that China is a greater threat than it is. Subsequently, there is an “absence of mutual threat perception” between India and China. As China emerges as a world power, some in India feel threatened, while most Chinese are indifferent to India’s emerging world power. <br />China’s People’s Liberation Army has continuously been spreading its influence into the Indian Ocean Region and “military planners in Beijing don’t feel India has ownership of this expanse of water. China and India both have significant interests in the region, and seek to prevent the other from becoming the dominant regional power. Many Indian leaders perceive burgeoning PLA activities in the Indian Ocean Region as direct threat to India. Chinese leaders need to communicate to Indian leaders the reasons driving their military presence in the Indian Ocean, and discuss potential issues it may cause. Breaking down and discussing the issue may allow for future compromise or help generate a mutual perception.<br />Corresponding shifts in India and China’s respective military doctrines often blur the line between defense and offense, worsening tensions. It is often unclear what is considered a threat, so military and government leaders may interpret some actions as unintended threats. “The cardinal sin in leadership is the failure to understand the nature of your opponents,” and this is apparent with both India and China’s leadership. Leaders need to discuss many of their respective military tactics and strategies to clearly communicate what are offensive actions from defensive tactics. This would help lessen misguided tensions, as well as improve relations. Leaders need to establish clear lines of communications to resolve many misperceived defensive conflicts.<br />Military to Military Communications<br />In both countries, many military officials do not feel obligated to justify or explain military actions, regardless of the threat it poses. Communications between Indian and Chinese militaries are limited, but do happen. Currently China is not overtly engaged in military competition with India, however many Indian governmental officials believe China is a military threat. Consequently, Indian military leaders are modernizing its military, while Chinese military leaders are extending their military presence. Neither country feels compelled to explain their perceptions or actions to the other country, causing and exacerbating misperceptions. Military leaders need to implement continuous discussion workshops between the countries to avoid empty threats, and learn how to decipher between offensive and defensive actions. <br />Government leaders have established various exchanges to improve communications. India and China set up various mechanisms to carry out political and military relations. There is constant close interaction between strategic and foreign policy think-tanks between India and China, as well as a “bilateral Eminent Persons Group and a Distinguished Visitors Program of the Ministry of External Affairs” to encourage bilateral traveling. In addition, communication has increased between India and China academic organizations with youth exchanges at an annual exchange rate of 100 youths per year. This exchange program is a critical aspect to forming a mutual perception between Chinese and Indian civilians. If citizens truthfully experience the other’s culture, it is likely to help increase trust and understanding. While youth exchanges do not directly combat issues with military-to-military communications, it encourages citizens who may later be in the military to respect the opposing country.<br />India and China’s foreign ministries have instituted dialogue mechanisms on “issues relating to counter-terrorism, policy planning, and security, besides strategic dialogue and regular consultations” as well. These dialogue mechanisms should help facilitate conversations going between India and China that can be on-going in the future. Government officials conduct visits to their neighboring state. President R. Venkataraman visited China in 1992, which was the first Head of State-level visit from India to China, which started a trend. President Jiang Zemin, who is the first PRC Head of State of India to travel to China, visited China on orders of the Indian president in 1996. During his visit, Indian and Chinese representatives signed four agreements regarding the adoption of “concrete measures between the two militaries to enhance exchanges and promote cooperation and trust.” In 2003, Prime Minster A.B. Vajpayee visited China and signed a Declaration on Principles for Relations and Comprehensive Cooperation, the first “comprehensive document on the development of bilateral relations signed at the highest level” between India and China. In addition, the two Prime Ministers appointed special representatives to explore the overall bilateral relationship and border dispute between the countries from the political perspective.<br />Diplomatic talks provide opportunities to clarify concerns, deepen mutual trust, and coordinate stances to form another period of mutual perception. Defense Secretary Pardeep Kumar held talks with the PLA Deputy Chief of General Staff, Ma Xiaotian, and met Defense Minister Liang Guanglie. Mr. Kumar told his Chinese colleagues that “India was willing to work with China to strengthen mutual trust and increases consensus, as well as expand co-operations on security issues.” This meeting was a part of the annual bilateral Sino-Indian Defense Dialogue, which began in 2007 to discuss tensions regarding the borders and naval strategies.China and India both see a need to increase the frequency of exchanges in order to improve transparency and reduce mistrust. Since diplomatic talks began in December 2007, both sides are beginning to understand the recent tensions, and “stressed the need to maintain existing confidence building measures (CBMs), such a local-level brigadier meetings and regular exchanges along the Line of Actual Control, the effective demarcation along the border.” India and China’s efforts to improve military communication with “PLA General Wu Quanxu visiting India’s Eastern Command and an Indian Army delegation visiting Tibet and the PLA base in Chengdu” demonstrate these efforts. “There is a substantial difference because both civil and military leadership realizes the continuing uncertainty on the border is not in the interests of both countries,” said Srikanth Kondapalli, chairman of the Centre for East Asian Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University. “They have now renewed efforts to push CBMs forward.”<br />Attempts at Peace<br />Implementing mechanisms for greater communications would help China and India reach convergence on a range of issues and impediments in their relationship. The most important mechanism is encouraging open discussions between leaders and militaries. Open discussions is likely to lead to a mutual perception between China and India, and may ultimately improve bilateral relations.<br />An important aspect of clear communications is to clearly state on what issues each party will and will not compromise; India and China have not yet taken this action. Both countries have established what they will compromise on, and have not established what they will not compromise on. The disagreement regarding the border between India and China still remains a key issue that neither country has openly discussed. India and China may be able to begin to resolve the border issue if they establish that they cannot compromise on it, and work towards a different solution. <br />In 1999, External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh traveled to China for talks with his counterpart Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiazuan to discuss efforts to improve relations. Jiazuan stated that if there is to be any development between India and China, “neither side should see the other as a threat, and that the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-Existence should be taken as the basis.” The five principles in the agreement consisted of “mutual respect for each other's territorial integrity and sovereignty; mutual non-aggression against anyone; mutual non-interference in each other's internal affairs; equality and mutual benefit; and peaceful co-existence.” In addition, both sides agreed to establish a Joint Working Group, to seek a fair, reasonable, and mutually acceptable solution on the boundary question, and well as a Joint Economic Group. These agreements set a new standard for peaceful relations between China and India and strived to significantly improve relations, which would improve communications. While this seemed optimistic for positive relations at the time, relations have not progressed since. <br />Since 1999, periodic regional exchanges were made to help improve relations. In 2004, India’s Army Chief General N.C. Vij made a visit to the PLA Chief of State General Liang Guanglie to reach a consensus to continue expanding military to military ties and to enhance cooperation in combating non-conventional security threats. In addition, Chinese and Indian heads of government met to officially launch the China-India Friendship Year in 2006. The Chinese President Hu Jintao claimed that China was “willing to work with India to further develop friendship and enhance dialogue, with exchange and cooperation at all levels.” With this, a series of official exchange activities were set to exchange political, economic, and military exchanges, as well as cultural, scientific, and educational exchanges. The Chinese President and Indian Prime Minister agreed to these national visits, and were determined to establish a “strategic and cooperative partnership orientated towards peace and prosperity, which not only demonstrates the two sides’ determination to cooperate but also created conditions for raising the bilateral relations to new highs.” <br />While no disagreements were resolved during the Friendship Year, both countries were clearly willing to collaborate without giving up their own goals and beliefs. Each country had reached its own goals, while still compromising with the other country, which in turn increased trust and common prosperity. With this, India became the first non-socialist country to establish formal diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China, a large feat. While the ministry departments and business offices were collaborating and nurturing bilateral relations, it did not include the general populace of civilians. <br />India’s Culture<br />Indian culture reinforces messages from the government through powerful cultural communication practices. Indian society takes active measures to ensure social subordination, which may be the reason why the general populace of Indian citizens perceives China has a threat, because their surrounding society tells them to. Citizens are strongly encouraged to follow messages from governmental or military officials because they are socialized to do so, and feel as if they have no power or authority. India’s culture is an omniscient patrician type involving a “complex cultural system with restrictions placed on food, sex, and rituals.” Indian society communicates ideas concerning the purity of its members, and kinship ties that create binds to anchor the Hindu to its place in society, to maintain social order. To secure these beliefs, Indian society generates cultural products that emphasize the message of social subordination. For example, Indian women must follow strict dress code policies enforced by religious values, and communicated through social media outlets and commercial businesses. The culture often creates a constellation of messages powerful enough for even civilians to believe and follow. <br />Cultural Indian beliefs spread fear since not all information about China is known. Indian culture has many philosophical and mythological beliefs embedded in its foundation, including that goals are timeless; knowledge of truth is the key to action and power; and world order is hierarchical, not egalitarian. These beliefs set many standards for the Indian culture, from how to think to how to act. Many Indian leaders strive to earn a new status and become the new world power since they believe that goals are timeless. Because Indian culture emphasizes that truth is the path to action and power, the Indians do not know all truths about China’s intent, fear sometimes results. <br />Similar to the Chinese approach, the Indian government believes that cleverness trumps force and that good intentions do not pardon warfare. This, along with many other instrumental implications in the Indian culture set the status quo; <br />
India’s external visage is enigmatic;
Self interest expressed externally is impersonal and absolute;
Contradictions in the real world are natural and affirmed;
Force has its place, but guile may trump force;
Actions have consequences, good intent does not absolve injury;
Entitlement inhibits ordinary compromise (hard to split differences, truth is not at east with quid pro quo);
Trust is in right knowledge and action, is impersonal, and hard to build or replenish;
Security is sedentary (encompasses a geographic setting and way of life); and
Strategy is assimilative (appearance changes, reality is constant).
Concern about China is often exaggerated in the media, which increases fear among many Indians. Due to an abundance of misguided information about China, Indian civilians have formed a negative, but slightly ambivalent, attitude about the advancements of China. Overall, forty-six percent of the general populace of civilians believes it is a bad thing that China is gaining economic power. However, sixty percent of civilians could not choose between a positive or negative appreciation, and only twenty-two percent of civilians gave a negative rating to China’s influence in India. There appears to be latent mistrust toward China amongst the Indian populace based on popular sentiment in the media. Reconstructing these attitudes is likely a challenging and long-term prospect. <br />China’s Culture<br />Chinese culture and history emphasizes harmony over warfare. The Chinese are proud of their long-established civilization, with a distinctive attitude towards life, their own philosophies, and wholesale acceptance of what was essentially a foreign religion. Chinese culture emphasizes ancestry-worship and prosperity embedded in a strong familial tradition, as well as developing human relationships, building mutual trust, and establishing stable interpersonal foundations for long-term cooperation. “Much of Chinese philosophy suggest(s) that truth emerge(s) not through debate, but rather through study, reflection (and) meditation,” and that insight will follow. Chinese culture stresses that it is better to attack your enemy’s strategy rather than its troops, and suggests that it is preferable to avoid collisions unless battle is inevitable. As noted by Li Jijun, former Deputy Director of the Chinese Academy of Military Sciences, “China’s ancient strategic culture is rooted in the philosophical idea of ‘unity between man and nature,’ which pursues overall harmony among men.”<br />Confucianism ultimately sets norms for behavior in Chinese society and non-adherence to those norms could banish citizens from society. Today, contemporary Chinese culture consists of three major elements—traditional culture, communist ideology, and, more recently, Western values. The traditional Chinese social values originate from Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism practices. Confucianism provides many of the essential elements in Chinese military thought and Chinese conduct of international relations. Confucianism is a behavioral or moral doctrine based on the teachings of Confucius regarding human relationships, social structures, virtuous behavior, and work ethic. In Confucianism, there are rules for the social behavior of every individual, governing the entire range of human interaction in society. The basic teaching of Five Constant Virtues formulates Confucianism: humanity, righteousness, propriety, wisdom, and faithfulness. Confucius “favors harmony over conflict and defense over offense,” and the preferred strategic goal is to win a war without resorting to the use of force. Chinese researchers have traced this “preference for peace and harmony back throughout Chinese history and stress that China pursues peaceful solutions rather than violent ones.”<br />While Chinese culture emphasizes peace, China leadership in the past and in the future may use violence in disputes over military and security questions – particularly territory. Chinese decision makers view territorial disputes as “high value conflicts, due in part to a historical sensitivity to threats to the territorial integrity of the state.” China used violence as a key conflict-management technique in “eighty-percent of the crises in which the primary issue was territory or related to territorial security.” Additionally, the Chinese leadership tends to establish a very low threshold to determine what constituted a clear threat to the security of the state.<br />Chinese communication experts believe that China needs to learn how to play by “international rules” if they desire to increase their international influence, as well as find a balance in “the need for more information with their goal of controlling content and maintaining power” These experts believe that transparency in communications is one of the biggest challenges in China. Even though Chinese culture emphasizes a “relationship-based system that fosters trust, long-term vision, higher efficiency, and the formation of strategic alliances,” the government monitors and censors information about the country. This censorship hinders communication internally, and even globally. <br />The information the Chinese government releases is often false and very misguiding. Currently, the government censors most of the information available to the populace. The government “continues to detain and harass journalists,” along with enforcing monitoring systems that add hundreds of restrictions to distributing news and information. Primary censoring agencies, like the Communist Party’s Central Propaganda Department (CPD) coordinates with the General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP) and the State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television (SARFT) to “make sure content promotes and remains consistent with the party doctrine.” This allows government leaders to control what the general populace of China view and understand about India. The CPD “gives media outlets directives restricting coverage about politically sensitive topics” that could be dangerous to state security and party control. Chinese leadership is most concerned about opening the door to the type of freedoms that could lead to the regime's downfall. However, there is a clear need for an increase in transparency to create informed Chinese citizens since the general populace does not know the truth about India’s growing influence. <br />Most people in China are relatively unconcerned about India’s growing influence, and have a positive or ambivalent attitude towards India. “Forty-seven percent of the Chinese populace believes that India’s influence was mainly positive,” while only thirty-nine percent believe it is negative. While less than half the general populace believes India’s influence in positive, fifty-six percent of Chinese citizens believe the influence is negative, similar to many Indians. However, fifty-six percent of Chinese believe that enhanced trade relations with India are positive. . These views are likely shaped by inaccurate information and news broadcasting to Chinese citizens and probably reflect a confidence among Chinese citizens in the abilities of their government and military to successfully gauge the threat-level that India poses. <br />Rules Governing Transparency <br />There is no objective standard used to measure transparency, which can make it difficult for any country to regulate transparency and communicate important information. China often hinders relationships with other countries because of its perceived lack of truthful communication with its populace and the international community. Bilateral relationships with other countries are often “undermined by dysfunctional patterns of language and behavior that emerge from disparate assumptions about openness as a political value.” The lack of shared values inhibits the formation of mutual trust and mutual respect, especially in high stakes negotiations. The root of the tension and lack of transparency may date back to the Cultural Revolution, when “people were told to say what the government, or more exactly, the Communist Party of China, expected to hear.” Those who said what they really thought, or questioned the government, were often jailed or worse. This may have caused China to have a fear of transparency, which is now embedded into its culture. This lack of transparency can prompt hidden intentions, and may cause India to make assumptions.<br />To overcome this, the Chinese government has established rules to ensure clear communication internally and externally. In April 2010, the Chinese government set the ‘Regulations on Government Information Openness,’ signed by Premier Wen Jiabo to enforce open communication about key issues that are in the public’s interest. The Chinese government realized that unless it responds to evolving international expectations, it may harm its chances of becoming a global power. Compared to relatively past efforts of weak transparency in the past, the “Chinese government has increased the amount and frequency of information it releases to the public, expanded social competition over ideas, and relaxed its controls over information.” China has also increased access to accurate information that the government believes to be beneficial to both Chinese citizens and the nation. <br />India has also recently improved open communications. The Right to Information Act, passed in 2005, “empowers citizens to seek information on all public matters without asking for justification, sets a time-frame within which officials must provide information, and also provides punishments for those officers who wrongfully, or with mal-intent, deny information to the public.” In addition, any government personnel who deny information must justify his reasoning, and accept an appeal against his decisions. This act has become so powerful that in the “2006 report by Transparency International puts India at the 70th place and states that significant improvements were made by India in reducing corruption.” This act may considerably reduce corruption within the government, since it could open up avenues to equalize grievances caused by the government. However, Transparency International issued another transparency corruption index in 2009 stating India as 84th place, which is fourteen places higher than 2006. While the Right to Information Act strives to improve communications and reduce corruption, it has yet to do so.<br />Transparency is essential for regulatory quality of bilateral communications between India and China. Improvements to transparency in decisions are likely to allow both parties to clearly understand each other’s intentions to make unified agreements. Transparency helps resolve misperceptions, allowing for effective and clear communications.<br />Consequences of Increased Transparency<br />With an increase of transparency in information comes a need for information literacy, which “includes the skills to interpret information in context.” Transparent data does not automatically create informed citizens. If government leaders, military personnel, or the general populace of civilians do not understand the information they are reading, it could increase fears and assumptions. Raw information can actually make things worse if it is not interpreted correctly, which is why providing a clear context is critical prior to disseminating new information. Transparency without literacy could cause even more misperceptions than without transparency because could jump to conclusions, thus increasing tensions between India and China. People who misinterpret “information (are) even more powerful” and harmful than uninformed citizens, and the more information that is available allows for more opportunities to “spin” information. To effectively increase transparency in China and India, both countries would need to “take advantage of all the transparency and open data that people are calling for” and introduce an information literacy infrastructure to help build a better-informed citizenry and a fairer society.<br />Recommendations <br />Both countries need to set clear standards of what is a potential threat from the opposing country. Miscommunication of information between militaries and between the government and citizens are blurring truth from fiction. While leaders in China and India have taken many important steps towards increasing confidence building measures (CBMs) between the two countries, there is still a lot of room for improvement. Ensuring an understanding of the difference between standard operations and warfare would ease many Indians negative perceptions towards China’s growing influence.<br />There needs to be a mutual understanding between the two countries. China and India can achieve this goal through many of the agreements already set in place. Governmental officials should clearly outline all previous agreements, and strongly enforce them. Then, the government must clearly communicate these agreements to the public to spread mutual understanding between both countries. Cultural exchanges are extremely valuable, and should include more citizens other Chinese and Indian youth. National visits between the Chinese President and Indian Prime Minster should continue to show a joint effort of cooperation between the countries. <br />A key starting point in resolving the border tensions are establishing what India and China do not want to compromise on, and investigate ways to overcome those challenges. By establishing issues that cannot be compromised on, leaders can focus on other ways of resolving important issues and move towards more peaceful relations. While the border dispute between India and China remains unresolved, an increase in mutual understanding may help to resolve the issue. If China and India can compromise on many other detrimental issues, they should eventually be able to reach an agreement about the ongoing border dispute. <br />Follow-up Questions<br />
What other communications tools and vehicles might China and India implement, across military, political, and economic dimensions, to help form mutual perceptions and reduce the risks of misperception?
What indications would suggest further deterioration in communication practices between the Chinese and Indian government officials and militaries leaders?
What specific communication techniques (e.g. working groups, summits, agreements) would be most helpful for focusing on the tensions regarding the border dispute?
How could the general populace of citizens in India and China aid in improving bilateral relations through their interactions (e.g. cultural and economic exchanges)?
What are major barriers to sustaining open communication practices over the long-term?
What role, if any, can the United States play in promoting or helping facilitate improved communication practices, increased transparency, and greater contact among Chinese and Indian leaders, officials, and civilians?
Would the United States’ involvement in facilitating improved communications practices worsen or improve bilateral relations between Indian and Chinese governments?
What would an increased rivalry between India and China bring on both regional and international levels? Could this pose a threat to neighboring countries?
What specific risks does the absence of sustained, institutionalized military-military communications practices pose in the nuclear arena?
Would Chinese or Indian governments and militaries consider a nuclear arms war to reach their desired international status?
Do China and India understand each other's nuclear doctrine? How could attitudes toward nuclear weapons be better communicated between the two countries?
Would either country’s success in economic, cultural, or political arenas hinder the others’ growth?
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