After the violent border clash between India and China, Indians have begun protesting. They have been burning effigies of Xi-Jinping and urging fellow Indians to boycott Chinese goods. Some in West Bengal were so impatient to protest that they ended up burning effigies of Kim Jong Un. A hilarious mistake especially when they seemed so invested in the cause. A video of men in a residential society in Surat, throwing their Chinese-made T.V off their balcony has emerged. The men were lathi-charging at the broken T.V and stamping on it, as a symbol for their dislike for China. However, it seems a little counterintuitive as they’ve already paid Chinese manufacturers for the goods. But the bottom line is that Indians want to boycott Chinese goods to retaliate against the violent army clash.
On Monday night, there was a violent clash between Indian and Chinese soldiers. Both sides claim that the other had crossed into each other’s territory. The deadly altercation left 20 Indian soldiers dead and 76 injured. Surprisingly, this happened during a time when top commanders had agreed to defuse tensions on the disputed Line of Actual Control (LAC). The Chinese have denied allegations of instigating the attack and blame India for the same. However, satellite images captured in the past few days show signs of the Chinese altering landscape. China has been widening tracks and making river crossings according to a report in Hindustan Times. This attack will heavily affect India-China relations as this kind of violence hasn’t occurred for the last 45 years.
Indians call for a boycott of Chinese goods
This violent face-off has left Indians distraught and stirred an anti-China sentiment in them. Ever since China started to reclaim the land that India considers part of its territory, people in India have been upset. With the attack, their rage only amplified. The Confederation of All India Traders, a group representing over 60 million Indian retailers, have called for the boycott of Chinese goods, they’ve listed 450 imported items for the same. Indian government officials stated that they plan to impose higher trade barriers and raise import duties on around 300 goods from China. Many Hindu nationalist groups such as VHP and Swadeshi Jagran Manch have urged Indian authorities to ban Chinese goods and are advocating for people to switch to Indian goods. They’ve suggested the government to check import of Chinese goods, encourage local manufacturing, and impose higher non-tariff barriers and more standards norms.
The Indian Telecom Ministry has also ordered telecom providers to not enter Chinese deals regarding equipment upgrades. This might affect plans that Indian Telecom companies’ plans to upgrade 4G services in India. The anti-China sentiment in economic affairs will also affect India’s recent construction deal with China. India had recently entered into a profitable contract with a Chinese construction company. The company was to build an underground stretch for a rap new rail project in Delhi.
Is boycotting Chinese goods a practical idea?
According to a data analysis by DNA, boycotting Chinese goods will not dent their economy, neither will it be beneficial to ours. The data procured by the Department of Commerce shows that China has a 72% share in the smartphone market, 66% in apps, 90% in solar power, and 60% in pharma. And even where it has a lesser share such as Steel (18%-20%), Auto Components (26%), and Telecom equipment (25%), it will be difficult to replace Chinese goods and may be quite expensive. An article in The Wire stated that India is the biggest importer of Chinese consumer goods. Trade figures show that India imports almost seven times more from China than it exports to it. India only accounts for 2% of China’s exports. Hence, boycotting Chinese goods may have a negligent impact on the country.
It may be difficult to identify if a product is Chinese as today different parts of a product are sourced from different places. Some components could arrive from China and some could be locally manufactured. So, how can one decide what to use and what not to? In the past whenever nations have decided to boycott international goods, they’ve been quite unsuccessful. China had attempted to boycott Japanese goods in the early 1930s and Muslim countries tried to boycott Danish goods due to a comic depiction in the years 2005-06. But due to the globalisation in economic activity and the inter-dependence on each other, these attempts were unsuccessful.
Path to an ‘Atmanirbhar’ India
To counter the demand for Chinese imports, there needs to be a considerable increase in Research and Development. This is to ensure that India can create goods that are at par or better in quality and cost in comparison to Chinese goods. Another way would be to attract more Foreign Direct Investment, currently, India receives 25% of FDI that China gets and 10% of what the US gets. This disparity must be addressed. Governments must lower tax rates for loans provided to Indian companies and provide infrastructural aid to compete with Chinese equipment. Additionally, it would be more strategic to diversify our import sources. Instead of largely relying on China, we can import from other countries as well.