On August 5 2019, India abrogated Article 370 of the Indian Constitution thereby revoking the special status of the state of Jammu & Kashmir. Before the decision was announced in the Loksabha by Home Minister Amit Shah, the Government imposed a curfew and communications blackout in the then state of Jammu and Kashmir, making local media coverage of the issue out of the question. In such a landscape, international reportage on the issue became very important.
Other than India and the people of Jammu & Kashmir, the other major stakeholders are Pakistan and China. Pakistan has Azad Kashmir (Pakistan occupied Kashmir) and China has Aksai Chin (China occupied Kashmir) under their control. Both the countries saw India’s move as a threat to their claim over Kashmir. This paper is a content analysis of two state-run news agencies – Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) from Pakistan and China Daily from China. The APP is a government operated news wire agency. Major newspapers in Pakistan subscribe to the APP. Whereas China Daily on the other hand, is owned by the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China, has a global circulation of 9 million papers. It has the largest circulation among China’s English news agencies. This paper attempts to understand the differences in coverage of the Abrogation of Article 370 by APP and China Daily through a content analysis of the same. Comparing state-run news agencies would provide valuable insight into how these media houses reflect foreign policy stances of either country and their attempts at propaganda. This paper will also look at the tone of the reportage, and also the key themes that come up in either.
We developed Python scripts to automate text information mining from APP and China Daily’s website, focusing on news articles that contained the keyword “Kashmir”. We took 19 June to 20 September as the timeframe, 47 days before and after Article 370 was abrogated. For sentiment analysis, we cleaned the news articles that we had mined from the news agencies’ respective website, cleaned the
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text to remove special characters. We used Monkeylearn’s pre-trained sentiment analysis model to classify news articles as ‘Positive’, ‘Negative’ or ‘Neutral’. We created a text bag each for APP and China Daily of all the news articles published after abrogation and generated Word Cloud and extracted the most frequent words of these text bags.
Findings & Content Analysis
China Daily has only published 3 articles before 5 August, and 26 in the time after. However,
APP has published close to 459 articles after 5 Aug and about 50 in the 47 days before. The sentiment
analysis revealed that APP’s reportage was 53% negative, 37% positive and 10% neutral. China Daily, on the other hand, showed to have 42.3% negative, 50% positive and 7.7% neutral. Attached in the appendix below are the rest of the findings of the word frequency analysis, sentiment analysis and publishing timeline and frequency along with the scraped and tabulated data. APP, in general, has been much more vocal about the issue than China Daily. China Daily has mostly reportage of major incidents and events, whereas APP has been reporting on mostly statements made by ministers and members of the administration, to the extent where they do not even have an article on the actual reading down of article 370. The word cloud of China Daily shows that the word “cooperation” is a recurrent word and looking at the articles reveals that China has been stressing that India and Pakistan should cooperate to arrive at a peaceful resolution to the issue. This implicitly places China on the periphery as an onlooker rather than a stakeholder, unlike what Pakistan has done. Moreover, APP has mentioned China 31 times in 459
articles , whereas, China Daily has mentioned Pakistan 132 times in 23 articles . This highlights the
different approach that China has adopted – avoiding direct confrontation with India and bringing Pakistan as the main concerned party. Both countries place greater emphasis on Pakistan as a stakeholder in the dispute. China Daily has also been far more neutral in its tone of reporting, with muted headings such as “India issues presidential order revoking special status to Indian-controlled Kashmir”. However, APP’s
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reportage is overtly critical of the Indian government’s decision. For instance on August 4th APP
published an article headlined “Pakistan ready to respond to any Indian misadventure, continue
supporting Kashmiris’ struggle”. The first 11 articles published by AAP after the abrogation of article th
370, starting from 5 August, are all opinion pieces of the various ministers of Pakistan. The two major themes that emerge out of them are that of criticising the Indian government’s decision to read down Article 370, and announcing Pakistan’s solidarity with the struggle of the Kashmiri people. This divide is also affirmed by the sentiment analysis which shows that although most of the articles are negative (43 per cent) with connotations of condemnation and accusation of India, a sizable number of articles are positive (35 per cent) having connotations of solidarity and concern for human rights. In contrast, China Daily, because of their diplomatic stance, 57.7 percent of its news articles were positive(50 per cent) or neutral(7.7 per cent).
These findings are in line with popular critique of APP’s lack of journalistic objectivity. These are both state-controlled news agencies and as our analysis has revealed, they do reflect the foreign policy stances of the governments. However, it is interesting to note China Daily’s restrained reportage in comparison to the APP, both in terms of the number of articles and the tone of their content. It is also interesting to note the sheer volume of articles from the APP, which when taken in conjunction with its role as a wire agency, hints at a possible strategy to flood the market in an effort to get as many of their news pieces picked up by other agencies. However, this does not mean that the Chinese government did not make use of its influence over media. In today’s interconnected and global media landscape, even silence can be a powerful statement of intent.