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India Bans Milk, Steel, Cell Phone Imports from China

On Monday, the government of India banned the importation of milk products, steel, and some electronic devices from China, citing “quality concerns.”

Among the electronic imports banned were “mobile phones not bearing the International Mobile Station Equipment Identity number or other security features,” according to Zee News.

In the course of explaining the ban to the lower house of the Indian Parliament, Union Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman seemed to tip her hand that more was at stake than “quality concerns.”

Sitharaman expressed regret that a “complete ban of import from any country is not possible now,” due to World Trade Organization rules, “even if we have problems diplomatically, territorially, or militarily.”

She added:

Increasing trade deficit with China can be attributed primarily to the fact that Chinese exports to India rely strongly on manufactured items to meet the demand of fast expanding sectors like telecom and power, while India’s exports to China are characterized by primarily and intermediate products.

News18 of India mentions one likely influence for the ban: a diplomatic flare-up between China and India over India’s granting of a visa to Uighur leader Dolkun Isa, classified as a “terrorist who must be brought to justice” by China. India ended up withdrawing the tourist visa issued to Isa.

India was not happy with China’s attitude over the Isa controversy or with China’s refusal to reciprocate in the matter of Pakistan’s Masood Azhar, chief of the Jaish-e-Mohammad Islamist group. India wants Azhar listed on the United Nations terrorist register, a move China has blocked.

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