India, wearing this label, really looks unsightly: Global Times editorial
Published: Oct 12, 2023 12:01 AM Updated: Oct 11, 2023 11:56 PM
Customers are seen inside a VIVO mobile phone store in New Delhi on August 27, 2019. Photo: VCG

Customers are seen inside a VIVO mobile phone store in New Delhi on August 27, 2019. Photo: VCG

According to multiple foreign media reports, on October 10, local time in India, law-enforcement agencies arrested four industry executives, including an employee of the Chinese smartphone manufacturer Vivo, in a case of alleged money laundering. Vivo stated on Wednesday to Chinese media, "Vivo in India strictly adheres to local laws and regulations. We are closely monitoring the recent investigation and will take all possible legal measures to address it."

Many people's first reaction to this news was that India is once again targeting foreign companies operating in the country, especially those from China. This reaction is quite real because such incidents occur very frequently, and people have seen through what is really happening. India has worn the label of the "graveyard for investments" many years, and it seems to have become accustomed to it and doesn't want to take it off. However, wearing this label is not really a good thing for India, but it's ugly.

It is evident that since the border conflict between China and India in June 2020, Indian authorities have significantly increased their hostility against Chinese companies, with Chinese smartphone companies bearing the brunt. From making accusations and threats, conducting sudden office searches, freezing funds, to the recent arrests, India's crackdown actions against Chinese companies have been escalating step by step. The behavior is becoming increasingly unsightly, and is incongruent with India's aspirations for a global major power position and image.

People with some knowledge of India are well aware that India's legal and regulatory framework is as intricate as a labyrinth. Any slight oversight can lead to inadvertent violations, often resulting in widespread non-compliance and selective enforcement. This complexity provides a convenient tool for Indian authorities to extort foreign companies. However, it must be pointed out that in recent years, India has leveled numerous allegations against Chinese companies, yet ultimately found no evidence. It is possible that India aims to use such disturbances to force Chinese companies into unnecessary concessions and compromises.

India has indeed succeeded on numerous occasions, and this is probably the main reason it continues to do so tirelessly. The Financial Times Chinese edition published an article in September, which candidly pointed out that looking back at the history of foreign companies' development in India, it is not an exaggeration to say that it is indeed a history filled with blood and tears.

According to data from the Indian government, from 2014 to 2021, 2,783 multinational companies and their subsidiaries closed their businesses and operations in India. The number of multinational companies registered in India decreased from 216 in fiscal year 2014 to 63 in fiscal year 2021. Many multinational companies, including Metro AG, Ford, General Motors, and Volkswagen, eventually chose to withdraw from the Indian market. The actual number is probably more than that. The poor and volatile business environment in India is a consensus among almost all foreign companies operating in India.

People have summarized India's tactics, which involve initially offering some benefits or promising prospects to foreign capital in order to lure foreign companies to invest in India. Once these foreign companies have established a foundation and achieved certain benefits in India, especially when India has learned a little from imitating them, the Indian authorities use various means to effectively extort them, leaving foreign companies in a dilemma. If it weren't for being unable to bear it anymore, how could those multinational companies endure the pain of giving up such a large market like India? This may make India arrogant, giving it some short-term benefits, but it will inevitably cause long-term damage to India's national interests and act as a ceiling that hinders India's modern economic development. We advise India not to lose sight of the bigger picture for small gains.

After the Modi government came to power, it ambitiously launched the "Make in India" campaign, aspiring to make India a global manufacturing hub. In the past two years, the US' suppression and containment of Chinese companies, coupled with the Western media's hype about "shifting manufacturing from China to India," have made some Indians a bit arrogant. In reality, India is far from achieving this ambition. It is certain that India cannot support its domestic mobile phone industry by targeting Chinese smartphone enterprises. In the era of economic globalization, companies can only truly grow and strengthen through full competition. Driving away Chinese smartphones would bring more harm than benefits to India. In fact, without the support of the Chinese industrial chain, it would be difficult for India's smartphone industry to grow, and the development of India's manufacturing industry would also be hindered.

Lastly, in the face of unreasonable demands, malicious harassment, and repeated extortion, Chinese companies will never be soft targets that can be manipulated. They should stand firm without fear and defend their legitimate rights and interests. India's bullying of Chinese companies not only fails to prove its strength and power but also reveals its inner fragility and lack of confidence, once again demonstrating that India is far from being a mature and investment-friendly market.