The media has been often referred to as the watch dog of the nation. The importance of the media cannot be negated in a world wherein information is considered to be of utmost importance. For the realist school of thought, the media and information technology are of priority as long as they act as tools of the state- the utmost importance still being given to the state as the most important actor in the international system.
However, as the recent decision regarding Beijing and Delhi’s work on diplomacy via media proves, the media can work to the benefit of the states independently, and not merely as a tool in the hands of the states.
The primary rationale behind this decision taken recently is that good diplomatic relations can begin with friendly media. The classification of the media as an element of soft power can be labelled futile when a look is taken at the events in the latter half of 2009, when relations between China and India came under strain due to unsolicited and surcharged statements published in the media of the respective countries.
The decision to work on diplomacy via the media between India and China was triggered by the Chinese expressing to New Delhi that the Chinese media had been instructed against stirring up negativism in their relationship. A delegation comprising of eight member- editors from China will be in India in the month of January, on an invitation from the Ministry of External Affairs. The visit was due in November 2008, but had been postponed after the diplomatic spat over the visit of the Dalai Lama to Arunachal Pradesh.
The team members include four from Beijing, two from Shanghai, and the chief of the opinion desk at People’s Daily. 1 According to the Chinese Defence Minister Liang Guanglie, China and India should make efforts to lead the media and public opinion to a positive direction, which would enable in the creation of favourable environment for the enhancement of bilateral ties.
Besides this, Indian Foreign Minister S. M. Krishna is scheduled to visit China in April 2010, and President Pratibha Patil’s visit to China is scheduled in May 2010. Also, a China festival in India and an India festival in China are being planned. All these are for the purpose of bolstering friendly relations between the two countries.
Thus as clearly visible, new avenues for friendship using the media as a tool are being explored by these two states. In such circumstances, realsit claims of boundaries and frontiers being the primary concerns for states are clearly falsified.
1 Hindustan Times, New Delhi, Friday, January 08, 2009, “Beijing, Delhi work on Diplomacy Via Media.”