Vignettes of widespread anti-China emotions from across India flash these days as we skip through news channels. People in large numbers are hitting roads to stage protests against China. They burn China flags, effigies of its premier Xi Jinping and destroy damaged electronic gadgets with “Made in China” tags.
Amid the ongoing Ladakh tension, India’s telecom department on Thursday decided not to use any Chinese equipment to upgrade BSNL’s 4G services. As per reports, the Centre also asked private companies to lessen their dependency on China.
Here’s the “boycott China products” issue simplified through 6 questions
1. Why Chinese products are popular in India?
This is like boycotting your biggest supplier. China is India’s biggest trade partner. In 2018-19, India’s import from China was 70.32 billion US dollars, while its export was only 16.75 billion. So you can see for yourself how heavily skewed this trade transaction is in China’s favor.
The main reason behind the popularity of China’s products in India is their low prices. China’s cheap labour and government subsidy keep the price of Chinese products low. Huge production is another reason for the low price. Therefore, the Indian markets of electronic gadgets, mobile phones, white goods, clothes, shoes, perfumes, fertilizers, plastic items, machinery, watches and other such products are replete with Chinese merchandises.
2. Can we completely ban Chinese products, is it feasible?
Now this question cannot be answered in a simple Yes or No. There are some harsh ground realities. As per the figures, India’s import from China is seven times higher than its export to China. If we Indians really boycott all Chinese products now, it won’t harm China’s trade health much. Several Indian products are dependent upon raw materials that come from China. So if we go for a blanket ban, we might hurt our own interest more than defeating China in the trade war.
As experts point out, there is no data yet that say China is solely dependent on India for a large share of its trade revenue. Rather, China is also trying to find new markets for itself in other Asian countries and also in Africa.
Whole world is now not very much interested to deal with China, it's a blessing in disguise for Indian economy. A lot of people from different parts of the world want to deal with India, in this situation we need to increase our export& reduce import: Union Minister Nitin Gadkari pic.twitter.com/6YMCI5pf7e
— ANI (@ANI) June 18, 2020
3. How are India’s traders reacting to the issue?
India’s biggest traders’ organisation, the Confederation of All India Traders, has already raised its voice to boycott over 3000 Chinese products. The persisting anti-China sentiments following the Covid-19 outbreak and the ongoing Chinese aggression along the LOC have triggered this reaction from Indian traders. The organisation, a network of over 7 crore traders, has already come up with a list of 450 categories under which these 3000 Chinese products are enlisted. The traders have decided to approach commerce minister Piyush Goyal and seek government support to become self-reliant with their businesses.
4. What will happen if India totally bans Chinese products?
Experts are of opinion that India is not in a position to hurt China economically at present by simply boycotting all its products. Even if India plans to do so, it should think twice about its own economy. Unfortunately, India’s economy is witnessing its worst time ever since Independence. Therefore, we cannot afford to take the risk of imposing a blanket ban on Chinese products almost immediately.
If India goes for a complete ban, there will be shortage of goods in the market. Prices of several commodities will soar eventually, affecting the interest of common people. Economists believe that India should examine sectors like banking, telecommunications and defence to upgrade its economy. Saying a blatant “No” to any Chinese or any other foreign investment may prove to be a wrong decision.
5. What India can actually do?
According to experts, taking small but definite steps towards the goal is what India should do. According to a report by ThePrint, the traders’ organisation said that the products of those 450 categories can be easily manufactured in India from now on as they do not require any complex technology. The traders emphasized to boycott all Chinese applications, ThePrint reported. However, they also rooted for developing India’s tech sector to avoid shortage of goods.
Experts suggest that India should focus on creating a pragmatic blueprint on Indian alternatives of banned Chinese products. Quantity, quality and cost issues should be given prime importance here. A significant amount of resource allocation, investments, government support, research and development are required for India to emerge as a self-reliant economy. Simultaneously, skill development and development of technology will help India become confident in the world trade scene.
#BoycottChina trending online but little impact on consumer products sales
While companies declined to comment on the issue, senior executives at many of these Chinese firms said there has been no impact on sales yet.
— The Times Of India (@timesofindia) June 18, 2020
6. Did this product boycott method work for other countries?
Waging trade war or boycotting foreign products by countries is not a new method. The US started boycotting French products in 2003 after France declined to send its troops to Iraq. Similarly, China itself imposed ban on Japanese products to protest its colonisation initiative in the 1930s. However, none of these events were successful. You may ask why, the answer is simple, an economy has its own demands. Not everything can be fixed through rigid patriotism. Also, in today’s globalised scenario, no country can survive in isolation.
Well, our PM is for Atmanirbhar Bharat. But last time we checked, tea or the culture of having the beverage came from China. So what should we do about it? Maybe India’s famous Chaiwala can answer! What’s say?