#BoycottChineseGoods – Can India afford to take the step?

Following the fatal physical clash between Indian and Chinese troops in the Galwan valley region, calls to boycott chinese goods have aggravated countrywide. According to Outlook India report, the Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM), renewed their demand for “an economic boycott of China and Chinese products,”. The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) released a list of more than 500 Chinese products to be boycotted and requested celebrities not to endorse Chinese products under the newly launched ‘Indian Goods – Our Pride’ campaign. Meanwhile, Oppo cancelled the 5g phone live launch in India viewing the rise in anti-China sentiments.

(Image Credits: Swarajya)

As per latest reports, Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India (DFCCIL), a public sector undertaking corporation run the Indian Railways, has decided to terminate project contracts awarded to Beijing National Railway Research and Design Institute of Signal and Communication Group, citing poor work progress.

(Image Source: Indian Railways)

BSNL and MTNL has also declared not to use Chinese equipment in its up-gradation to 4G network. However, amid the calls for Atmanirbhar Bharat, a target to replace 30% of Chinese imports, the question of feasibility of this step for India has become a topic of major discussions. 

Also Read: India-China stand-off: What caused the death of soldiers in Galwan?

A look at massive Chinese investments in India

Chinese investments in India is a more complex matter and needs to be dealt in detail. But we can have a look at the current incidents and facts to understand the involvement of China in Indian marketplace.

  • As per CNBC-TV18 report, leading Maruti Suzuki chairman RC Bhargava said that Chinese imports are necessary for manufacturing vehicles. By questioning why India has not been capable of manufacturing indigenously even after the Make In India program, he put forwards the difficulty of the vendors. Rajiv Bajaj, managing director of Bajaj Auto, said that about Rs 600 crore worth of components are from China and that it cannot be overlooked.
  • China backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) approved a $750  million loan to India on Wednesday to effectively fight against COVID-19. Co-financed with the Asian Development Bank, the loan is aimed to help the economic sector, expand social safety nets and strengthen the country’s health care systems.
  • RBI issued a license to Bank of China (BoC) to operate in India and offer regular bank services in 2018, a year after the Doklam standoff. Boycotting Chinese goods can lead to a possible threat to India’s banking sector from BoC. The BoC, which ranked about USD28.46 billion in net profit in 2019, expanded its investment in India buying one per cent stake in HDFC. BoC is the second Chinese bank to have a branch in Mumbai after Industrial and Commercial Bank of China which had started operations in 2011.
  • The Central Government has recently allotted Delhi-Meerut Metro work to a Chinese firm. Maharashtra NCP minister Jitendra Awhad questioned the government stating, “On June 12, the Delhi-Meerut Metro project work was given to Chinese firm Shanghai Tunnel Engineering Company, sidelining the Indian company L&T. Then on June 15, the Chinese killed our 20 jawans. What kind of a foreign policy is this?”
  • The surface of much celebrated ‘Statue of Unity’ — a statue of Iron Man of India, Sardar Patel was created using 553 bronze panels, which were cast in a foundry in China. It was part of an “international bidding process since there was no such facility in India that could make panels of that size”, news agency PTI quoted Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL) Superintending Engineer RG Kanungo.
The Statue of Unity

Why #BoycottChina is Unrealistic to India?

The reality of Indian manufacturing – and consumption, makes the demand for boycotting Chinese goods unrealistic. China is the largest supplier of Indian imports and the third-largest absorber of its exports.

  • Be it phones, footwear, solar panels, or SUVs, Chinese inputs are very well visible in the supply chains of leading corporate manufacturers.
  • Almost every Indian household has gadgets and appliances bearing a Chinese imprint in some form.
  • Six of the 10 smartphones preferred most Indians in 2019, came from explicitly Chinese brands, while two others were assembled in China virtue of being Apple products. 
  • Oppo, who became the principal sponsor of the Indian cricket team in 2017 was replaced Byju’s, an Indian ed-tech start-up backed a Chinese financier.
  • According to a report published Gateway House, the Alibaba Group alone has strategic investments in Big Basket ($250 million), Paytm.com ($400 million), Paytm Mall ($150 million), Zomato ($200 million) and Snapdeal ($700 million).
  • India’s potential to manufacture hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), which was in a great demand recently as a possible cure for COVID-19, greatly depends on the Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs), of which China is one of the leading producers and sellers.

There are n number of examples that illustrate how deeply China is rooted in India, and how boycotting it is not an easy task.

And what about the Beloved Bollywood?

While bollywood films earning crores in Chinese Box Office (3 idiots earned $2.2 million), question has also been posed to the industry with rising call for #boycottchina. Not only film release, but major bollywood actors act as brand ambassadors to China based cell phone companies.

While Vivo roped in Aamir Khan and Sara Ali Khan as its brand ambassador, Oppo’s list of brand ambassadors has a rather long – Deepika Padukone, Siddharth Malhotra, Ranbir Kapoor, Katrina Kaif, Badshah. Katrina Kaif is the face of Xiaomi which is one of the fastest growing brands in India, while Ranveer Singh is the face of RedMi (which is a sub brand of Xiaomi). Laptop manufacturer Lenovo has been endorsed Ranbir Kapoor since 2012. Joining the queue is industry’s famous bhai (Salman Khan) who is now associated with Realme.

Can celebrities give up on Chinese brands? It will be a show to see how Atma Nirbhar Bharat will make this industry self-capable.

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