China’s official news agency Xinhua has come under fire for a talk show segment demanding India “confess its seven sins.” The programme features a Chinese actor pretending to be Indian.

For over a month, Indian and Chinese troops have been locked in a standoff at a remote but strategically important Himalayan plateau near where Tibet, India and Bhutan meet. The area is disputed by China and Bhutan but India’s decision to jump into the fray reflects its concerns about Beijing’s growing military might and ambitions in the region, analysts say.

See more: ‘Easier to shake a mountain’: China and India locked in high-stakes, high-altitude border row

On Wednesday, Chinese state news agency Xinhua aired the segment, entitled “7 Sins of India,” on the English-language talk show The Spark. The video criticises Indian troops’ “illegal cross[ing]” of the China-India border.

“When the whole world is trying to wake India up from its impulse, China’s realised it’s impossible to awaken a guy who’s pretending to be asleep,” said newscaster Dier Wang.

The segment then cuts to footage of an actor wearing a turban and a beard, speaking in a stereotypical Indian accent.

Photo: China Xinhua News screenshot.

Included in the “seven sins” is a section on India’s “trampling [of] international law.”

“You may think Doklam is a disputed area, but the truth is that both India and the international community have recognised the place as a part of China according to the 1890 Convention between Great Britain and China relating to Sikkim and Tibet. Didn’t your mama tell you never break the law?” said Wang.

“China has a strong will to solve the problem peacefully with the prerequisite of India’s withdrawal of course. However India is so thick-skinned that it is on the one hand crying for talk but on the other hand refusing to withdraw… Have you ever negotiated with a robber who had just broken into your house and refused to leave? You call 911 or just fight him back right?”

See also: China to ‘step up’ troop deployment, defend sovereignty ‘at whatever cost’ in India border row

Photo: China Xinhua News screenshot.

As of Thursday, the video has garnered more than 700 comments on Twitter, with many criticising its “racist” and incendiary content.

One commenter said: “Work on your propaganda. Also English pronunciation. Also don’t dress up a Chinese person as a fake Indian for racist laughs.” Another commenter said: “A country which has land disputes with every other of its neighbours is teaching ‘7 sins of India’. Good joke.”

See also: China-India border dispute: A grim sign for stability in Asia

The fifth sin described in the video is “[p]utting blame on victim,” in which Wang asks, “Would you go and take it up when your neighbor’s building a path in his garden?” referring to India’s criticism of China’s road-building project on the border. The Chinese actor replies: “He’s building a path in his garden? I’m in DANGER!” Photo: China Xinhua News screenshot.

A blog post on The Indian Express newspaper written by Leela Prasad said that the segment had “crossed every line of decency.”

“The problem is not just with the blithe usage of racial connotations, Xinhua’s TV show host goes on to paint this ‘hairy man’ as a primal invader with scant regard for the rule of the land,” said Prasad. “So far, India’s response to China’s aggressive posturing over the Doklam stand-off has been calm and measured. It must once again choose to ignore this blatant racial profiling from its noisy and nosy neighbour.”

Jun Pang

Jun Pang is an independent writer and researcher. She has previously worked in NGOs advocating for refugees' and migrants' rights in Asia and Europe.