India should curb ‘boycott China’ voices after border clash

By Liu Xiaoxue Source:Global Times Published: 2020/6/17 19:25:30

Illustration: Tang Tengfei/GT

Following a fatal physical clash between Chinese and Indian border defense troops in the Galwan Valley region, some extreme anti-China groups and individuals in India have been promoting a China "boycott."

The Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM), an affiliate of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), on Tuesday renewed their demand for "an economic boycott of China and Chinese products," Outlook India Magazine reported. The anti-China group is calling for India to launch frictions with China "in trade and investment." That irresponsible call has been echoed by a handful of Indian celebrities with large numbers of followers. Some in India are enthusiastically promoting hostility toward China for their own interests, though they likely account for just a small percentage of India's vast population. They have called for a China boycott each time an issue has arisen between the two neighbors, placing bilateral ties in a dangerous position. 

Rational voices in India have repeatedly pointed out that it is unrealistic and self-destructive for Asia's third-largest economy to launch frictions with the largest economy in the region. And blindly associating border issues with investments and trade is illogical. The rational majority in the South Asian nation - particularly those involved in economic development and politics - is unlikely to allow anti-China groups to incite hatred, escalate border issues or interrupt economic ties with China.

While assessing the new tensions at the border, India should understand that China's restraint is not weak. The two nations should cherish their precious development opportunities and maintain good bilateral ties. It would be extremely dangerous for India to allow anti-China groups to stir public opinion, thus escalating tensions. The priority now for both sides and the region is to accelerate economic recovery.

The global economy is faced with great uncertainty amid the coronavirus pandemic. With mounting pressure on economies this year, economic development on both sides will inevitably suffer huge losses if China and India allow border tensions to escalate.

According to UNCTAD's World Investment Report 2020 issued on Monday, global foreign direct investment (FDI) flows are forecast to decrease by up to 40 percent in 2020, down from their 2019 $1.54 trillion value, while investment flows to developing countries in Asia could fall up to 45 percent in 2020.

As a developing country, India needs to concentrate on development while there are huge uncertainties around the world. Developing countries are more vulnerable during the pandemic. If border tensions escalate and adverse factors increase, investment may withdraw.

India currently has the fourth most confirmed COVID-19 cases in the world, but it is not continuing its lockdown. That shows its economy is facing great pressure - particularly when it comes the country's large number of people living in poverty. Many face immediate threat to survival if they lose their jobs during the lockdown.

India's exports in May fell 36.5 percent year-on-year, while imports plunged 51.1 percent year-on-year. It was the eighth consecutive month that Indian exports fell, according to media reports.

The space for economic cooperation between China and India is vast. Economic and trade cooperation is of great significance to the economic development of both countries, and to overcoming difficulties. It is also of great significance to the regional and global economies in overcoming the impact of the pandemic.

The author is an associate research fellow at the National Institute of International Strategy under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. 


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