Looking back at the past 70 years, China-India relations have moved ahead despite wind and rain and gone through an extraordinary development path. In the 1950s, the leaders of the older generation of the two countries made the historical decision to establish diplomatic relations between China and India, and jointly advocated the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. “Hindi Chini Bhai Bhai” (Indians and Chinese are brothers) resounded throughout our two countries. From the 1980s, the two sides agreed to solve the boundary question through peaceful and friendly consultation, established strategic and cooperative partnership for peace and prosperity, and achieved all-round development of bilateral relationship.
Despite 2020 marking 70 years of diplomatic ties between China and India, the border tension over the past month has been heightened again.Troops from the world’s two most populous countries engaged in a physical clash. Although the two Asian giants are not stranger to border incidents, it was the first time in decades that the border dispute turned deadly. The question of whether India can sustain and withstand retaliatory measures from China is one that requires much thought and deliberation from the government. India fears that China is violating rules of origin norms and pumping goods into India through their common trading partners in Asia, by abusing the loopholes in existing trade agreements. The Ministry of Commerce and Industry in India has called into scrutiny various free trade and bilateral agreements that India is roped into, with countries that have similar agreements with China.
India has already refused to sign the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), fearing that it could pave the way to Chinese goods flooding the Indian market and overthrowing domestic manufacturers. However, if we are looking at backing out of other such regional and bilateral agreements as well, India has much more to lose than China does in the long run.
More concerning is the possibility that China may decide to strike back by throwing Indian companies out of China. We are already seeing reports of customs authorities in Hong Kong and China, holding back some consignments of Indian exports after Indian ports started inspecting Chinese imports. This is only going to get worse if India implements a blanket ban on Chinese imports, against all odds.
If India really seeks to check the unregulated flow of Chinese imports in India and create a dent in the Chinese economy, India would have to do a lot more than just cut down imports that are coming in directly from China. We would also have to narrow down all consumer products that are manufactured or processed, even in part, in China before finally being assembled and exported to India from another country. The obvious knee-jerk reaction of shutting down these big brands would only have a minuscule impact, if at all, on the Chinese economy. On the other hand, the question of whether India can sustain and withstand retaliatory measures from China is one that requires much thought and deliberation from the Indian government.
The coronavirus crisis, in particular China’s mismanagement of the initial stages of the outbreak, has generated intensely negative public sentiments against Beijing—in India and many other countries around the world. Countries have demanded an investigation into the origin and handling of Coronavirus. Indian app ‘Remove China Apps’ highlights backlash against Chinese business amongst the Indian public. Its popularity comes amid calls for a boycott of Chinese mobile apps in India as a border dispute in Ladakh fuels a backlash against products from China. It scans a user’s phone for apps such as ByteDance’s TikTok and Alibaba’s UC Browser and removes them. Popular Indian yoga guru Baba Ramdev described deletion of Chinese apps as a “national service”.
The COVID-19 pandemic is reviving sentiments against Chinese products in the country. The recent backlash against China over faulty testing kits or alleged suppression of actual numbers of infection are fuelling online campaigns in India urging people to reduce dependence on Chinese electronics and refrain from buying them.Previous boycott calls have focused on Chinese goods, whereas this one especially targets Chinese apps.
This isn’t the first time that Chinese products or brands have drawn flak in India. Some experts point out that in the short term this will raise questions in people’s minds, but in the medium term they don’t see any impact of these campaigns on Chinese companies or products