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A webinar provides a curtain raiser to Deciphering China

The Institute of Contemporary Studies Bangalore (ICSB), the Chennai Centre for China Studies (C3S) and the Press Institute of India (PII) jointly hosted a two-day virtual conference end-September titled Deciphering China. The objective was to create an understanding of China and provide journalists and others a clear picture about the factual dissemination of information there, including internal developments and actions in the global arena. Also, to help them understand what to look for and where, and provide them knowledge for better analysis and assessment, especially in view of the plethora of information available today in the public domain and on social media, a lot of it not credible. Journalists, students of journalism, research scholars and subject specialists participated. The resource persons comprised former diplomats, members of the intelligence community, senior military officials, senior journalists and senior academics who have had the experience of working in China or who have been following developments there closely. Jayadeva Ranade, president, Centre for China Analysis and Strategy, delivered the inaugural address. The various sessions focused on:

• Indo-China: Future developments in trajectory of ties: Redefining the global order
• Maritime dimensions: Indo – Pacific & IOR – challenges, opportunities and options
• Cyber security and securing India
• Analysis of the media landscape in China
• India’s defence strategy in forging strategic partnerships in the post-COVID era

Speakers included Lt General Narasimhan, director general, Centre for Contemporary China Studies, and member, National Security Advisory Board; Prof B.R. Deepak, professor, Centre of Chinese and Southeast Asian Studies; Prof B.M. Chengappa, associate professor (International Relations & Strategic Studies), Christ University, Bengaluru; Lt General P.R. Shankar, former director general of Artillery, and professor in the Aerospace Department of IIT-Madras; Cmde R.S. Vasan, director, C3S, and regional director, National Maritime Foundation – Tamil Nadu; Cmde Udai Rao, former principal director of Naval Intelligence and former director, Cabinet Secretariat; Subramanya Raju, Maritime Study Centre, Pondicherry University; Balasubramanian C., research officer, C3S; Suresh Bulusu, founder director, Smart Transformations; Ruchika Arora, cyber security technologist; Samir Aksekar, founder director, Cyberwis; Munjal Shroff, co-founder, Graphiti Studio; Col Hariharan, formerly with Military Intelligence; and former Group Captain A.V. Chandrashekaran.

There was a separate panel to discuss misinformation and disinformation campaigns and information warfare by China and strategies employed, and the role of media in shaping foreign policy. Those who spoke were R. Prasannan, Delhi Bureau chief, The Week; Shastri Ramachandaran, Political and Foreign Affairs commentator and editorial consultant, WION TV; Nitin Gokhale, Strategic Affairs analyst and editor-in-chief, StratNews Global; and Sathiya Moorthy, head – Chennai Initiative, Observer Research Foundation. While Sashi Nair, director, PII, welcomed at the start, P.M. Heblikar, managing trustee, ICSB, proposed the vote of thanks at the end.