While anti-China sentiment is on the rise, a key question for India is how to deal with made-in-China products: burning them, or replacing them with made-in-India products? The latter is better.
Hundreds of Indian traders reportedly burned Chinese goods on Tuesday, urging consumers to boycott those products. There is anger in India, as people feel dissatisfied with China’s decision to delay a bid at the UN to blacklist militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed’s leader as a terrorist. Indian social media users may think that burning Chinese goods is the best way to send a message to Beijing.
However, the facts show that this is not a good way to express their discontent, because the “message” did not attract much attention in China. A search for India on Weibo on Wednesday returned several news items and videos, but not one of the top 10 pieces was related to burning Chinese goods. Why aren’t Chinese people too concerned about the moves against made-in-China products?
The boycott will have little impact on China’s exports. In the short run, Indian consumers can’t find alternatives to products made in China. If they burn Chinese goods to vent their anger, they may have to buy those same products all over again from Chinese companies after their anger cools, shoring up China’s exports. However, the boycott may deal a blow to the confidence of Chinese companies in India’s investment environment, and they may worry about becoming targets of anti-China sentiment.
If Indian people don’t like made-in-China products, they have an alternative to burning those goods: attracting foreign investment from China. Localized production in India will help replace made-in-China goods with made-in-India products, and create more jobs for young Indian people. The average factory wage in India is lower than in China. If India can step up efforts to attract more Chinese manufacturers and make itself a processing base, the country can reduce imports from China and also shore up its exports to China. In that case, India will see fewer made-in-China products, and made-in-India products will become popular in China.
Take China as an example. Its efforts decades ago to promote US investment was the starting point for made-in-China products’ journey to the US, where Chinese products now have a large market share.
If India wants to replace made-in-China products with made-in-India products, the country can copy China’s models of attracting foreign investment. Burning Chinese goods won’t solve the problem.
The author is a reporter with the Global Times