By Tenzin Sangmo
Dharamshala: Dec. 7: Tibetan exiles and activists in Dharamshala, the seat of Tibetan government-in-exile, expressed common outrage towards a full page advertorial on the national newspaper Indian Express
promoting China’s propaganda on Tibet.
The December 3rd edition of the newspaper carried a full page advertorial titled “TIBET, CHINA TODAY” splashed across the page with the overriding theme of the content summed up by the heading “Tibet’s cultural legacies develop with times”
This is not the first time that Indian Express carried out a full page advertorial of contents that promote the official Chinese narrative of the situation in Tibet.
In 2016, Palden Sonam, a researcher at Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, an independent think-tank in Delhi, noticed such ads and wrote an article titled
THE INDIAN EXPRESS: A New Platform for Chinese Political Propaganda on Tibet?
Speaking to Phayul today, Sonam alluded that the two main entities involved in it would be either the Chinese Embassy or United Work Front Department. He continues to express his resentment on social media.
Advertorial, in journalistic parlance is taken as an advertisement given in the style of an editorial or objective journalistic article.
The newspaper had published a snippet on the front page directing the readers to take it as an advertisement. The RED initiative, the source of the advertisement is referred to in the snippet and appears on the top right of the advertorial page that spells out the acronym as Road Engage Deliver. However, no information is forthcoming on the Internet about the entity.
Tenzing Jigme, the president of the Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC) says he finds it unfortunate and sad to see the same newspaper which has covered Tibetan activism now being used as a Chinese propaganda tool.
Inferring to the lack of principles apparent in the situation, Gyaltsen, campaign director of SFT India says, “This is a clear example of lack of principles from both the sides, China for going to the length of buying an advertisement space in a national newspaper in India to enhance its propaganda voice and the newspaper for overlooking its principle. The main function of running advertisements is to facilitate the newspaper to report fairly. It defeats the purpose.”
“Similar contents are earlier published in journals by the embassy but has now crept into Indian National Newspaper,” said the spokesperson of CTA Sonam Norbu Dagpo. Dagpo also expressed the inability to issue an official rebuttal of sorts as the content is carried out largely as an advertisement.
The main Indian Express office at Noida where the editor in chief is based advised that readers should write a feedback email first.
However, Vijay Kranti, a senior Indian journalist specialized on Tibet issue is adamant that Tibetan activists should write formally to Press Council of India whose job is to monitor the conduct of the print media. He remarked, “Nobody needs to educate Indian Express about China’s occupation of Tibet and its colonial interest. It is highly immoral. Indian Express Editors should have used their discretion before advertising colonialism in the name of advertisement.”