April 05, 2020
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Red Patriotism

Red Patriotism
Communist China is a misnomer for those who try to look at it through Indian eyes. The Chinese are as patriotic and proud of their civilisation as anyone amongst us, minus their disinterest in pluralist democracy and press freedom. We go overboard praising their development, but I think even with our pushcart progress and lonely battles with Harkishen Singh Surjeet's hate missiles, we aren't doing too badly. Anyway, the first thing that strikes you about China is the youthful energy manifest everywhere. You see radiant people who love their nation as much they love their families. People's Daily is China's largest newspaper with a circulation of 3 million copies published from its sprawling offices spread over 12 acres. You cannot help but notice the Pepsi outlet. My Chinese friends are unfazed. "They follow our law," is the cryptic remark. "Over the past half-century, more than two million foreign experts have worked in China," I am told. The warmth with which its international chief editor Wu Ying Chun receives me can be modestly termed as overwhelming. "How many correspondents do you have in Delhi?" I ask and repent immediately. The Chinese media presence in Delhi is 10-strong while we have just one man in Beijing.

In a store full of 'learn English' books—a common sight in bookstores across the land—I found in a fabulously produced book a list of all the dynasties that have ruled China. At the end was mentioned: Communist Party of China, 1948. The concept of civilisational continuity is important for national pride. Patriotism is an honourable word in the Communist lexicon here and most places connected with the evolution of the Communist party bear a prefix patriotic (sic) promotion site.

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