Modi government needs to prevent economic conflict

Source:Global Times Published: 2020/6/30 20:40:05

File photo

In an apparent move to boycott Chinese products and services, the Indian government on Monday imposed a ban on 59 Chinese mobile applications including TikTok, WeChat, UC Browser and CamScanner.

While offering a lackluster explanation for the nonsensical move, the Indian government has actually made its "political crackdown" on Chinese companies open and blatant. 

According to India's Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, the Chinese apps have been blocked from the local market for "engaging in activities which are prejudicial to [the] sovereignty and integrity of India." 

If India's sovereignty can be damaged by a handful of apps, just how vulnerable is it? 

It is undeniable that the app ban will hurt the commercial interests of relevant Chinese companies, but, when looking at the bigger picture, it is clear that India is in no position to cause harm to China's juggernaut economy. 

Some anti-China groups and radical individuals in India have been calling for a boycott of Chinese products after the recent deadly border clash. Yet it was not long before Indians realized that turning nationalist rhetoric into action is more difficult, as there are no available and affordable alternatives to Chinese-made products such as smartphones, chemicals, automotive components and many other items.

After the border brawl, China has been calling for calmness and earnest efforts from the Indian government to protect bilateral economic and trade ties, because the ties benefit both parties. But now it seems that not only has the Modi government failed to rein in the rising nationalism among Indians, it has also yielded to domestic pressure and even encouraged such a boycott to escalate. 

India's attempt to extend the China boycott to the internet services sector is sending a very negative signal as the country's boycott-China provocations will further worsen bilateral relations to trigger an economic conflict.

Over the years, China-India border brawls have occasionally occurred, but it would be uncommon for the two countries to engage in an economic war. Even during the Doklam standoff in 2017, India's economic losses were limited as bilateral trade ties recovered quickly following the crisis. 

But that doesn't mean the Indian side should underestimate the consequences of an economic war with China. And China's restraint is not a reason for India to recklessly crack down on Chinese businesses.

The impact of the recent border clash is not something the two countries have seen before. What the Indian government and people have done has dealt a severe blow to the confidence of Chinese investors and traders, and the Indian economy could remain subdued for a protracted time under the devastating shocks from the coronavirus outbreak.

Under such circumstances, if the Indian government continues to pamper the country's nationalist sentiment, it may suffer more economic losses than it did during the Doklam crisis. We sincerely hope the Indian government will wake up to the reality of the situation and help prevent the current crisis from deteriorating to a firestorm.

Posted in: GT VOICE

blog comments powered by Disqus