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Opinion: The What, Why And How Of #BoycottChina

We’ve all seen hashtags or topics trending on social media but emotions trending on social media is the news. Yes, you read that right! Emotions! With #BoycottChina trending on all platforms, the emotions of Indian citizens are trending. The heavy hearts for the loss of our brave soldiers, sliding economic situations due to the pandemic caused by Coronavirus, the uprising tensions with Nepal due to the backing of China, faulty test kits and medical equipment for our frontline warriors and the violation of our territorial sovereignty has accumulated over months to finally led to this loud reaction.

But with the voices raising against Chinese goods, an important question arises.

How Do We Boycott Chinese Products?

india china attack
India- China attack.

Taking bits from the news, several individuals have been burning and throwing away their household equipment because they are Chinese, many local trader bodies across the country have burned a few Chinese products symbolically. But does it make any difference to the Chinese economy by doing these things? No! Simultaneously, the layman of the country has a request to make.

Why doesn’t the government of India stop all imports from China? This would make no Chinese goods reach the Indian markets and I won’t buy any. Well, the issue here can be divided into two parts.

Firstly, as India is a member of the World Trade Organisation, the obligations on the member state’s part have to be met and one of the obligations is that no direct trade ban can be imposed on any country. Another one is that no one country can be targeted in particular for malpractices in trade.

Secondly, from this narrative, the popular belief that the citizens of this country want everything to be done by the government comes to life. Citizens just have to check the origin country of the product while they buy but they want to give this task to the government to be accomplished. For instance, the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan was launched by the Prime Minister back in 2014. After a few months of the launch, the residents of this country could be seen saying “Government ne kiya hi kya hai” (what has the government done) when all they were asked was to keep their surroundings clean.

Some have been raising voices as to why are we fighting for a small piece of land such as the Galwan Valley and letting our soldiers get martyred. But, the Galwan Valley is not just a small piece of land. It is near the connecting road of Leh to Daulat Beg Oldie airstrip which is one of the highest in the world. Getting better connectivity to which would give the Indian Armed Forces an edge over the control of the area.

The area here is not just the nearby locations but the complete Union Territory of Ladakh. Galwan Valley can be used as a checkpoint by the Chinese troops to keep an eye on the movement of Indian troops and other such things. This one point is like the USP. Further, if we would have backed out and given China the reigns, who knows they would have claimed more territories of India specifically Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh (which already are part of China’s official map). Thankfully, the recent updates say that China has agreed to deescalate the matters and return to the pre-conflict positions.

Can We Boycott Chinese Products?

It’s a tricky question but my optimistic mind says yes! To begin with, the share of China’s imports is quite large. It is approximately $70 billion and there’s a trade deficit of around $50 billion every year. This means declining them would be a great loss to China’s economy. On the other hand, getting the numbers down is going to be a herculean task. Chinese products cover almost all basic industries and share of Chinese products in the respective industries is more than half of the sectors

  • Smartphones – 51%
  • Electronics – more than 60%
  • Pharmaceuticals – 80%
  • Solar Energy – more than 90%
  • 18 out of 30 unicorns are Chinese funded including some of the most used applications.

This is not even the complete list. These are just the major products. Other than this, toys, idols, etc are also exported by China. With these numbers, it certainly looks scary. But take the example of Pakistan being tagged as the exporter of terrorism. It seemed impossible to change the image of Pakistan at the United Nations. But with persistent work by the diplomats posted all over the globe, today, majority nations and even the United Nations accept the point India was making for years.

I know the task is huge but as Sonam Wangchuk says – We have to use our wallet power to break China’s backbone, the Chinese economy. Some people have been saying that not buying one mobile phone wouldn’t make any difference. Well, everyone is allowed to have an opinion. I choose to do everything in my purview, they choose to question every move.

What Are The Problems That Can Arise With The Boycott?

modi and xi jinping shaking hands at the BRICS meeting in 2017.
“Why doesn’t the government of India stop all imports from China? This would make no Chinese goods reach the Indian markets and I won’t buy any.”

Firstly, the alternatives for these products might not seem available instantly and many of them might not be as competitive concerning the pricing and sometimes even quality, but I think that would be the first step towards the alternative companies to work for enhancing their products.

Secondly, the demand-supply issue. Rejecting Chinese products would decrease the number of products available but the demand won’t subside. This would lead to a shortage in the supply of various commodities.

Thirdly, by the disbalance created in the demand-supply curve, the prices are sure to rise. But with the smaller firms getting better sales, the competitiveness would come back to normal in some time. Lastly, the manufacturing capabilities are not up to mark currently to meet the standards or quality of products.

But you need to set on the road to reach your destination, you can’t sit there and wish for it to happen magically. When the government has taken cognizance of the issue and started to cancel various orders or tenders allotted to Chinese firms, we as the citizens can do our bit too.

What is surprising is that these reasons do not cover the whole picture. Not yet. Chinese laws have an obligation on the companies owned by Chinese citizens. The law obligates them to share their data and information with the government when required. This makes our private data easily accessible to foreign countries that can be used for whatever purposes. The problem doesn’t end here. Some applications have access to a lot of data that didn’t even ask for permission.

For instance, Chinese app TikTok which is popular in India has access to your sim card data. You don’t permit it because it doesn’t ask for it. It’s mentioned in the privacy policy, that we all miss acknowledging let alone reading it. The last arrow in my quiver for today is the reason for all these aggressive activities that are being carried out by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

The aggressive stand-off in Galwan Valley with India, hostile activities in the South-China sea, suppression of Hong Kong protests in a hawkish way and the increasing opposition for the independence of Taiwan are all little steps to distract the world and the citizens of the People’s Republic of China from the issue of the unwarranted spread of COVID-19 across the globe.

More so, China will continue to do so as a second wave (actually third wave) of coronavirus cases is in the making in the capital city, Beijing. This time the spread began from none other than the wet markets in Beijing. As situations are going down-hill for the Chinese government back home, it’s time for us to put the foot on the peddle and fasten the process of minimizing the use of China manufactured products in the country.

Over time, as the demand for them decreases, the imports will fall too. So, let’s make a difference in the memory of our brothers who fought for our freedom till their last breath. Let’s make a habit to check the origin of the country before buying anything new.

You must be to comment.
  1. Rahul Das

    Beautifully explained

    1. Himaadri

      Thank you very much!

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