Indian Fervor to Boycott Chinese Products Meets Reality of Chinese Economic Takeover

TOPSHOT - Congress party supporters shout slogans as they gather around a flag displaying the country and flag of China along with an inscription reading 'Boycott Made in China' before burning them during an anti-China demonstration in Kolkata on Juane 18, 2020. - India and China agreed on June 17 …
DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP via Getty Images

Indians eager to boycott Chinese goods after this week’s deadly border clash between Indian and Chinese forces are running into the reality that Chinese imports have muscled out all competition for many popular items.

“At India’s biggest wholesale market in Delhi’s Sadar Bazaar, which has nearly 40,000 shops, the reality hits. Almost everything on the shelves — toys, electronics, watches, home appliances – is made in China,” NDTV reported on Thursday.

“Almost 70 per cent of electrical items come from China. On Diwali, we buy something as basic as fairylights but in huge quantities worth billions of dollars from China. Even the components of several Indian made items such as pumps to electronic toys come from China only,” one Indian entrepreneur explained.

Indian trade associations said they were still determined to boycott Chinese products, but only if their government steps up to help local producers with regulatory reform, subsidies, and reduced excise taxes.

Local officials in the fashionable Delhi shopping district known as “Defense Colony” (due to its history as a residential area for military officers) were full speed ahead on the boycott, urging people to “take all the Chinese items lying in your house and throw them on the roads and click pictures and send those to newspapers and TV channels.” Some Defense Colony residents were noticeably less enthusiastic, expressing reluctance to throw away useful items they could not easily replace without buying Chinese products again.

Telecom industry analysts told the Indian Express on Friday that customers in India have few affordable alternatives to Chinese-made cell phones. All but one of the top cell phone brands are Chinese products, the lone exception being Samsung. In fact, one analyst noted Chinese phones are so popular in India that it would be difficult to boycott them because retailers can’t keep them in stock.

“Calling for a boycott of Chinese companies can prove to be a disastrous step as the entire smartphone ecosystem will collapse and thousands of jobs will also be on the line,” the Indian Express cautioned, adding that Indian manufacturers are ramping up their efforts to win market share away from Chinese products. Some Indian government officials are trying to boost those efforts by starting a #MadeInIndia hashtag and vowing to replace their phones with Indian-made equipment as soon as possible.

IndiaTV on Friday printed a boycott guide listing the top Chinese companies doing business in India, along with some trending hashtags Indian social media users can employ to signal their displeasure with China.

China’s state-run Global Times chimed in on Friday to suggest the boycott-China movement is an irrational “angry outburst” of Indian nationalism and most likely an American plot. The Chinese paper lectured Indians at length about how they cannot hope to prevail in either economic or military conflict with mighty China, warning that the United States “can only provide limited help” that would not be sufficient to “change the balance of power between the two countries.”

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