We have spoken about how geography changes the news and how it tells a lot about the relative importance of issues when the same matter gets coverage in different countries. In this blog dated 10th June, we had highlighted important differences in how the ongoing India-China standoff on boundary disputes in Ladakh is being covered by the Chinese and the Indian media. The Indian media has been promptly highlighting the ‘Chinese aggression’ for a while and in comparison, the Chinese media had virtually ignored the conflict.
So effectively there are two dimensions on how an issue gets coverage in news, a) the local language vs. English in the same geography (for example, the English and Hindi news coverage in India or English and Mandarin news coverage in China), b) the other is how Indian news is looking at an issue and how much prominence the same issue gets in China. The news captured under both these dimensions is so different that Sentiment Analysis offers completely different results. The same phenomenon is being seen in how Indian and Chinese media reported the deadly clash at Galwan Valley a couple of days ago.
When we see the coverage, China also admits casualties, but its media plays down the worst clash in decades, while Indian newspapers and TV channels urge a push back. The newspaper ‘Indian Express’ wrote that the government should display ‘steely resolve’ in its response over Ladakh clash. The Indian media has also highlighted the number of casualties for Chinese Army after the Indian army said 20 of its soldiers had been killed in a “violent face-off” along the Himalayan frontier. Especially the Indian TV channels are more aggressive in building up the support for a strong action against China.
While it is difficult to form an objective view in such matters, there are two major factors in how the situation could become more complicated and difficult to resolve without further damage, a) too much of prominent coverage and mass hysteria makes it more difficult for leaders to arrive at a middle path and leave the ‘hard line’, b) the reporting on number of casualties on both sides makes it a race for both the countries on projecting who has been damaged more. Overall, the fact is that too much of aggression shown by media has been damaging for both the Government and the soldiers on both sides.
There are also some massive inconsistencies which can be noticed in the reasons behind why media will be keen to escalate the contentious issues. For example, look at the following figure. It is the site of one of the most widely circulated Hindi newspapers (the language spoken by maximum number of people in India, it is more than any other language). The area in black rectangle has two news items. One is talking about how people damaged Chinese TV sets after the recent conflict and the other is an advertisement for a Chinese mobile phone. This should be seen in the wider context of a call for boycott of Chinese goods in India. There are practical considerations why this can’t be implemented. But that doesn’t stop this “call for boycott of Chinese goods” from being widely circulated on social media and news channels.
Fig. 1: Screenshot of Navbharat Times (Times of India Group) at 16:45 IST, 17th June
In any situation, it is possible to argue that media only reflects the public opinion. But these are sensitive situations and media has a role in shaping the popular discourse. On both the sides, it has to play responsibly and the responsible people can’t be short sighted about picking up an unnecessary and avoidable conflict. This is immensely important for almost 40% of humanity which resides in these two neighboring nations. It will be much more prudent if a calm response from both India and China determines the course of conflict than pure media coverage.
EM Alpha LLC
For more EMAlphainsights on Emerging Markets, please visit https://emalpha.com/insights/. To know how you can use EMAlpha’s unstructured data on Emerging Markets for better investment decisions, please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
EMAlpha, a data analytics and investment management firm focused on making Emerging Markets (EMs) accessible to global investors and unlocking EM investing using machines. EMAlpha’s focus is on Unstructured Data as the EMs are particularly susceptible to swings in news flow driven investor sentiment. We use thoroughly researched machine learning tools to track evolving sentiment specifically towards EMs and EMAlpha pays special attention to the timely measurement of news sentiment for investors as these markets can be finicky and sentiment can be capricious.Our team members have deep expertise in research and trading in multiple Emerging Markets and EMAlpha’s collaborative approach to combining machine learning tools with a fundamental approach help us understand these markets better.
This insight article is provided for informational purposes only. The information included in this article should not be used as the sole basis for making a decision as to whether or not to invest in any particular security. In making an investment decision, you must rely on your own examination of the securities and the terms of the offering. You should not construe the contents of these materials as legal, tax, investment or other advice, or a recommendation to purchase or sell any particular security. The information included in this article is based upon information reasonably available to EMAlpha as of the date noted herein. Furthermore, the information included in this site has been obtained from sources that EMAlpha believes to be reliable; however, these sources cannot be guaranteed as to their accuracy or completeness. Information contained in this insight article does not purport to be complete, nor does EMAlpha undertake any duty to update the information set forth herein. No representation, warranty or undertaking, express or implied, is given as to the accuracy or completeness of the information contained herein, by EMAlpha, its members, partners or employees, and no liability is accepted by such persons for the accuracy or completeness of any such information. This article contains certain “forward-looking statements,” which may be identified by the use of such words as “believe,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “should,” “planned,” “estimated,” “potential,” “outlook,” “forecast,” “plan” and other similar terms. Examples of forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, estimates with respect to financial condition, results of operations, and success or lack of success of certain investment strategy. All are subject to various factors, including, but not limited to, general and local economic conditions, changing levels of competition within certain industries and markets, changes in interest rates, changes in legislation or regulation, and other economic, competitive, governmental, regulatory and technological factors affecting the operations of the companies identified herein, any or all of which could cause actual results to differ materially from projected results.