News APP

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  gplay

This article was first published 2 years ago  » News » China Does Not Understand Indian Democracy

China Does Not Understand Indian Democracy

January 06, 2022 09:51 IST
Get Rediff News in your Inbox:

In democratic India, a citizen can be a patriot and at the same time be critical of the government, unlike China which promulgated a national security law in Hong Kong prescribing patriotism to contest elections, observes Rup Narayan Das.

IMAGE: Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Chinese Communist party, president of the People's Republic of China, and chairman of its central military commission, at the closing session of the national people's congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, March 11, 2021. Photograph: Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters

When the Chinese embassy in New Delhi expressed its 'concerns' last week over the participation of a group of members of Parliament attending a dinner reception hosted by the Tibetan parliament in exile sometime last month, it only feigned its ignorance of India's vibrant democracy which the Communist regime in Beijing derides or knowingly disregards India's democracy and its Constitution.

A group of MPs belonging to the cross section of the Indian political spectrum attended the event including Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Rajeev Chandrasekhar, the Bharatiya Janata Party's Maneka Gandhi and K C Ramamurthy, Congress MPs Jairam Ramesh and Manish Tewari, besides Rajya Sabha MP Sujeet Kumar from the Biju Janata Dal, who was the convenor of the All-Party Forum.

Kumar recently participated in the Alliance on China in Rome in when the G-20 Summit took place there. Earlier, he also participated in the Formosa Club speaking in favour of Taiwan.


The Chinese letter issued to the MPs, which was published in the media, said, 'I have noticed that you have attended an activity held by the so-called All Party Indian Parliamentary Forum for Tibet and interacted with some members of so called "Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile".'

The words used are not only objectionable, but also sounds like a memo served by a superior to a subordinate.

Further, the letter added, 'You are a senior politician who know the China-India relations well it is hoped that you could understand the sensitivity of the issue and refrain from providing support to "Tibetan independence" forces and make contributions to China-India bilateral relations.'

The MPs chose to ignore the letter, giving it the contempt that it deserves.

It is unfortunate that the Communist party of China and its governing authorities refuse to acknowledge and recognise India's pulsating democracy known for its no-hold bar animated debates, discussions both within and outside the portals of Parliament.

It should be known to the Chinese that in a parliamentary or for that matter in any democratic set-up, it is not a seamless connect between the party and the government as it is in a Communist regime like China. The legislature is independent of the executive and enjoys freedom of expression.

The privilege of freedom of speech of members of Parliament is embodied in Article 105 of the Constitution which says that subject to the provisions of the Constitution and standing orders regarding the procedure of Parliament, there shall be freedom of speech in Parliament.

As per the provisions of the laws and rules of procedures of Parliament no member of Parliament is liable to any proceedings in any court in respect of anything said or any vote given in Parliament or in any committee thereof.

It further provides that no person shall be liable in respect of the publication by or under the authority of either House of Parliament of any report, paper votes or proceedings.

A member of Parliament is also a citizen of India and is entitled to his fundamental rights in Article 19 of the Constitution which provides for freedom of speech, expression, assembly and form associations or unions.

If a member of Parliament is entitled to unhindered freedom inside Parliament, he or she is equally entitled to same rights and privileges outside Parliament.

The 'one China' policy of the Government of India does not debar legislators or members of civil society, the intelligentsia or the media to air their views with regard to Tibet or Taiwan or to engage with them.

India's relations with Tibet is rooted in the cultural and spiritual intercourse and His Holiness Dalai Lama and his followers residing in India are India's honoured guests; engaging with them is not blasphemous.

Similarly, India's engagement with Taiwan, a vibrant democracy and a software technology giant in recent times, cannot be should not be objected to by China.

China itself only a few years back had ramped up its engagement with Taiwan so much so that Beijing facilitated Taiwan's' participation in World Health Assembly and other multilateral bodies.

Excepting the regime change in Taiwan nothing has changed.

What happens between China and Taiwan should not constrain India's outreach to Taiwan which is fast emerging as a soft power icon promoting universal democratic values and helping the world community in fighting the pandemic and providing high quality educational opportunities.

In a democratic country like India, a citizen can be a patriot and at the same time be critical of the government, unlike China which promulgated a national security law in Hong Kong prescribing patriotism to contest elections.

No wonder, therefore, we do not have a Tiananmen Square although we have had a Mandal agitation and now recently a farmers agitation that led to the repeal of the farm laws.

It is time Beijing recognises international laws, conventions and practices.

It is bizarre that China can expect India's endorsement of its 'Belt and Road' initative passing through Pakistan occupied Kashmir, provide submarines to Pakistan and its ambassador in Colombo can visit Tamil dominated Jaffna much to the chagrin of India, and yet expect India not to engage with Tibet or Taiwan.

Dr Rup Narayan Das, a China scholar, is currently a senior fellow at the Indian Council of Social Science Research at the Indian Institute of Public Administration, New Delhi. The views expressed in this column are personal.

Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/

Get Rediff News in your Inbox: