Chinese propaganda machinery in India: After NewsClick controversy, BJP MP highlights Jairam Ramesh’ Huawei love and Congress-CCP ties

Chinese propaganda machinery in India: After NewsClick controversy, BJP MP highlights Jairam Ramesh' Huawei love and Congress-CCP ties


On 8th August, Bharatiya Janata Party’s Rajya Sabha MP Mahesh Jethmalani questioned if CCP’s India operations have a Congress link. In a post on X (formerly Twitter), he pointed out that Neville Roy Singham, who is at the centre of the NewsClick controversy, served as Chief Technical Officer of Chinese telecom giant Huawei from 2001-2008.

Notably, Chinese tech giant Huawei has been flagged by multiple governments across the world for alleged security issues over its links to the CCP, and is often cited as a company controlled by the Chinese government. Jethmalani said in 2006 that Congress leader Rajya Sabha MP Jairam Ramesh published a book, CHINDIA, where he “first extolled Huawei”. He added, “His lobbying for that entity’s interests continued at least till during his stint as Environment Minister in UPA 2.”

Furthermore, Jethmalani said that Congress leader Rahul Gandhi signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in the presence of Congress leader Sonia Gandhi with the CCCP in 2008. “All this happened during Singhams stint with Huawei,” Jethmalani said.

He questioned, “Did either or both of them meet Singham during his employment with Huawei or anytime thereafter? And what were their links? Shouldn’t NIA investigate?”

The NewsClick controversy

On 5th August, The New York Times published a detailed article, revealing the ties of an American businessman with the Chinese government and his financial support to an Indian leftist propaganda outlet named NewsClick.

According to the US-based newspaper, a millionaire named Neville Roy Singham has been funding several news publications worldwide (including India) to peddle Chinese propaganda.

“What is less known, and is hidden amid a tangle of nonprofit groups and shell companies, is that Mr Singham works closely with the Chinese government media machine and is financing its propaganda worldwide,” the article stated.

The New York Times pointed out that Singham has successfully disseminated Chinese government talking points under the pretext of ‘progressive advocacy’ in countries such as India, Brazil, South Africa, and the United States.

During its investigation, the American newspaper found that Neville Roy Singham had financed an India-based leftist propaganda outlet named NewsClick. It noted that the news outlet had repeated the talking points of the CCP in the past. 

“In New Delhi, corporate filings show, Mr Singham’s network financed a news site, NewsClick, that sprinkled its coverage with Chinese government talking points. “China’s history continues to inspire the working classes,” one video said,” noted The New York Times.

OpIndia’s complete coverage of NewsClick controversy can be checked here.

Neville Sigham and Huawei

As per January 2022 report of New Lines Magazine, Chinese Recruitment platform Boss Zhipin, Singham worked with Huawei from 2011 to 2008 as a strategic technical consultant. While speaking to Fortune Magazine’s senior editor David Kirkpatrick, he profusely praised China. He said, “China is teaching the West that the world is better off with a dual system of both free-market adjustments and long-term planning.”

In October 2010, during the Fifth Agile Software Development Conference hosted by ThoughtWorks, Singham proclaimed how he influenced several Chinese companies via Agile in his opening speech. A press release by Thoughtworks for that conference read, “Roy pointed out that the promotion of Agile in China has had a deep influence on the top management of the enterprises and organizations, such as China Mobile, Huawei, Baidu, Alibaba and Nokia-Siemens, who have started paying close attention, so as to actively influence the development of Agile in the management and cultures of their organizations.”

Not only Huawei but other large Chinese companies were named by Singham, hinting at deep-rooted reach across platforms.

Jairam Ramesh’s book and praises for Huawei

Earlier in January this year (2023), Jethmalani urged Jairam Ramesh to come clean on his links to Chinese company Huawei. In a post on X, Jethmalani said, “Since 2005, Jairam Ramesh has been lobbying for Chinese telecom co Huawei’s activities in India (see below excerpts from his book). Huawei has been banned in several countries as a security threat. Jairam now questions GOI’s China stand. It behoves him to disclose his Huawei links.”

The screenshot that Jethmalani shared in his post was from Jairam Ramesh’s book that was released in 2005 titled “Making sense of Chindia: Reflections on China and India”. In the book, Jairam Ramesh mentioned his interest in China’s history, culture and other aspects. He talked about how competition and confrontations on several occasions did not make India and China natural enemies and discussed in detail how the relationship between India and China can be beneficial. Interestingly, Huawei found its mention four times in the 130-page book.

The first mention that Mahesh Jethmalani shared was from the chapter “The C-I-A Triangle”. Speaking about how India and America versus China needed to be clarified, he talked about how despite the America-India deals happening, there was an upsurge in business between India and China. He specifically mentioned Huawei and said, “Our foreign office is, no doubt, wary of China, and in January 2003, Mr Jaswant Singh set diplomacy aside and pooh-poohed Chinese statistics. The Chinese feel that India is unnecessarily obstructive in granting business visas and approving Chinese FDI and contracts won in public tenders. The Chinese networking major Huawei Technologies has a sizeable presence in Bangalore and wants to expand, much to the discomfiture of Indian security agencies.”

Later in the chapter titled ‘Vajpayee Goes to China’, Jairam Ramesh discussed then-Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s China visit in view of bilateral and regional initiatives. He also talked about the discouragement Chinese companies, especially Huawei, saw in India even though it “already employed over 500 Indian engineers in Bangalore.”

In the Chapter Growing Ambivalence, he again mentioned that Huawei employed 500 Indian Engineers and expressed dismay that Indian security establishments had expressed concerns about the company. He wrote, “We seem to be prisoners of the old mindset when it comes to Chinese investments in India”.

Later, in the chapter FDI Revisionism, he mentioned the company with other Chinese companies and insinuated that China had expanded its global presence exponentially. He further insinuated that foreign companies were attracted to China because of the lobby against foreign investment in India.

Jairam Ramesh and his China-love

Jairam Ramesh’s love for Chinese company Huawei made headlines in 2010. Not to forget, then-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had expressed his displeasure over a statement he had made regarding Huawei’s investment in India.

On May 8, 2010, during his visit to China, then-Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh said that alarmist and paranoid policies of the Indian Home Ministry towards Chinese companies and projects were a threat to the ties between the two nations. He added to have faced opposition from a “suspicious” security and defence establishment over climate cooperation with the dragon. He questioned the allegedly “overly defensive” policies of the Home Ministry towards Chinese companies like Huawei as the company was facing an import ban for security reasons.

Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi’s MoU with CCP

 In 2008, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi signed an MoU with the Communist Party of China, which came under the radar for allegations to have well beyond nation-to-nation interests focused on the personal growth of the two political parties of neighbouring countries. The memorandum of understanding (MoU) also provided the two parties with the “opportunity to consult each other on important bilateral, regional and international developments”.

Interestingly, the MoU was signed by the then Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi. On the Chinese side, it was signed by none other than Xi Jinping himself, who was then the Chinese vice-president and standing committee member of the CPC’s politburo. The MoU was signed by his mother and party president Sonia Gandhi.

Before the signing of the MoU, then Congress President Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi had held a long meeting with Xi and other senior leaders of the Communist Party of China to discuss issues of mutual interest.

In 2008, Sonia Gandhi visited Beijing with Rahul, daughter Priyanka, son-in-law Robert Vadra and their two children to attend the opening of the Olympic Games. A year before, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi had also led a delegation of the Congress party to China.

The 2008 MoU between CCP and Congress came at a time when the Left parties in India had expressed a lack of trust in the UPA-1 government led by Congress. The India Today report suggests that even as China was aware of the political landscape in India, Xi Jinping went ahead and signed the pact with Congress as CCP wanted deeper ties with Congress, especially with the Gandhi family.


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