Global Times special correspondent in India: Zhou Liangchen
On October 31, India will welcome the most important festival of the year—Diwali. At odds with the festive atmosphere is a wave of calls for boycotting Chinese goods, mainly started by the social media, spreading to many parts of India. On October 28, many Indian media published the response of the Chinese Embassy in India to this, saying that China’s exports to India accounted for only 2% of its total exports, and boycotting Chinese goods will do even more harm to India.
“China’s total exports value in 2015 was about 2.27 trillion US dollars, exports to India accounted for about 2%. India boycotting Chinese goods does not have much impact on China, on the contrary, India will receive more serious damage”, the statement by Chinese Embassy in India says “the Chinese side is more concerned that the boycott of Chinese goods will dampen the enthusiasm and confidence of Chinese enterprises investing in India, thus affecting a series of bilateral cooperation between the two countries, which both China and India would not wish to see.” The statement further says: “Chinese goods not only reduced the inflation rate in India, but also satisfied the daily needs of the common people in India, greatly improving the quality of life of middle and low-income group people.”
The importance of Diwali to the Indian people is not less than that of the Spring Festival to the Chinese; it is essential for every household to buy lanterns and decorate the rooms. In recent years, with the introduction of large quantities of cheap and beautiful China made LED lamps, many people in India have changed their custom of lighting oil lamps and candles to celebrate Diwali, which to some extent affected the traditional earthen lighting products industry in India, affecting the livelihood of a section of pottery craftsmen. However, their industry associations and related social organizations put the blame on the Chinese goods.
Every year there is a boycott of Chinese goods before Diwali, but this year there is a difference. This year in June, Indian public opinion has connected India’s bid to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group getting blocked and boycotting Chinese goods. Of late, India-Pakistan relations are tense, and Times of India says that some organizations in India have called for a boycott of Chinese goods as a means of protest, because “China is supporting Pakistan.”
The tide of boycott Chinese goods campaign has surfaced, but its impact is “difficult to assess.” The statistics given by Indian media on this vary. Figures by Confederation of All India Traders show that this year Diwali’s retail demand for Chinese products fell by 45% than last year, and Times of India gave this figure as 30% on October 28. According to the statistics by India’s largest small commodity market, Sadar Bazar, “the sales of Chinese products fell by 20%.” However, according to the observation of this Global Times reporter, many Indian friends around are using Chinese-made lights. After all, ordinary people do not care about the place of manufacture; they only hope that the products are cheap but good. ▲