China’s Cyber Warriors a Challenge for India

In this opinion piece written by Dr. Abanti Bhattacharya (Associate Fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies & Analysis) for the Asia Times Online, the author writes that Chinese cyber-nationalism poses a threat to India, calling it a tool of China’s “psychological warfare”:

In this Olympic year, when China sought to project its best face, cyber-nationalism was as an easy tool used by the government to mobilize public support and shore up party solidarity. It was a powerful medium to tell people not to forget history and the “century of humiliation” that the West inflicted on it. It was a tool to portray China as the inheritor of a glorious civilization and a great ancient power and thereby its present has a rightful claim to the status of being a great power. This power of cyber-nationalism is apparently a new feature of Chinese contemporary nationalism.

The power of cyber-nationalism is manifold. It instantly links people all across the globe and mobilizes them at a minimal cost. The immense speed and maximized impact of cyber-nationalism was glimpsed by the anti-CNN website that was launched in response to the alleged Western media bias on the news coverage of the March Tibetan uprising. Almost at blitzkrieg speed, the site became the leading engine for Chinese cyber-nationalism in appealing for all Chinese to boycott Western commercial outlets and stage demonstrations.

Cyber-nationalism can also be lethal, as nationalist messages can be amplified to generate hatred between countries. During the March Tibetan uprising, Chinese nationalism assumed a significant anti-Western character. The obscene and abrasive words used by the netizens to give vent to nationalistic feelings snowballed into a wave of hatred and united most Chinese across the globe in a war of words. The Olympic torch relay was thus effectively portrayed as a war between “pro- and anti-China forces”.

Dr. Bhattacharya discusses how these cyber-nationalists are composed of both the “tech-savy” as well as the “young impressionable minds” and calls it a “double-edged sword” that can either support the government or turn on it.

She also states that India and China are similar that they both were victims of western imperialism and she refers to them as being more “civilizational states” than “political states,” but concludes that their differences in government and the power of Chinese cyber-nationalism could pose security threats for the Indian government.

For more on Sino-Indian relations or cyber warfare, see past CDT posts.

[Image courtesy of Wikipedia.]


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