India must be wary of extreme anti-China sentiment spreading to sci-tech areas

By Long Xingchun Source:Global Times Published: 2020/6/4 16:12:42

A screenshot of the app "Remove China Apps" from Google's Play Store

The trending app in India called "Remove China Apps" has been pulled from the Google Play Store two weeks after its launch, said its developer on Wednesday. The developing story shows that extreme anti-China sentiment is surging again in the South Asian nation alongside recent border tensions.

Anti-China sentiment exists in Indian public opinion due to historical and geopolitical factors, and has surged every time an issue arises between the two neighbors, placing bilateral ties in a dangerous position. The harm this causes to both sides has been clear in the past.

Yet at this juncture, as the whole world is fighting the coronavirus crisis and anti-globalization, some radical media outlets and organizations in India are relentlessly promoting anti-China sentiment. It must be made clear that they are not responsible for India's politics and economy. Their actions are in pursuit of their own interests and to attract attention.

The new anti-China app is just their latest move. It should be noted that given the country's vast population, the millions of downloads the app received accounted for a small percentage of Indians. They can't represent the rational but silent majority. India's technology industry has benefited the most from Chinese cooperation. The background of the company that developed the anti-China app is not yet clear.

The developers have obviously forgotten that economic cooperation always benefits both sides. Chinese internet companies have invested in the Indian market to provide a large number of high-quality apps for local mobile users. In addition, the Chinese apps these anti-China individuals call users to delete are the apps that have provided plentiful employment for Indian workers, driving the overall development of the Indian technology industry. These people have disregarded the facts and are promoting narrow-minded tech-nationalism, which will in turn hurt India's interests.

These anti-China groups should look at the reality of the situation before calling for a boycott of Chinese products. Since 2018 Chinese apps have dominated the Indian market, with more than 50 top apps coming from Chinese companies. Even short-video platform TikTok had seen some restrictions, and it remains one of the most popular apps in India. In fact, TikTok is a legal source of income for many Indians. If anti-China groups want Indians to delete all Chinese programs on their phones, they may have few apps remaining.

Of course, we can see the Indian government and military's current stance on the border issue is calm and restrained, but we hope they are alert to the extreme anti-China sentiment that is rapidly rising. The Indian government should ensure the border issue is not hijacked by these blind anti-China groups, so that bilateral relations are not pushed to a dangerous position and to prevent a repeat of the 2017 Doklam standoff.

Now, although China-US relations are becoming increasingly tense under the US' unilateral moves, Indian opportunists must understand that if they attempt to fish in troubled waters to pressure China, that will seriously damage strategic China-India mutual trust. If India makes more hostile moves, China could respond with countermeasures - and India will not be able to count on the US for help.

India's recent move to tighten its foreign direct investment (FDI) rules, which was widely seen as a move targeting China, shows the Indian government has been hijacked by domestic anti-China sentiment. This not only damages India's economic recovery, but also hinders India's opening-up progress. If India allows narrow-minded nationalism to spread to the field of science and technology, it will definitely hurt its own interests in turn.

India should instead utilize economic cooperation to buffer its tensions with China. Particularly at a time when economic recovery needs to be accelerated, India needs to release positive signals to promote the development of economic cooperation.

The author is a senior research fellow of the Academy of Regional and Global Governance, Beijing Foreign Studies University and president of the Chengdu Institute of World Affairs.


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