Following Deadly India-China Border Clash, Indian Officials and Locals Call for Boycotting Chinese Goods

By Nicole Hao
Nicole Hao
Nicole Hao
Nicole Hao is a Washington-based reporter focused on China-related topics. Before joining the Epoch Media Group in July 2009, she worked as a global product manager for a railway business in Paris, France.
June 22, 2020Updated: June 22, 2020

Indian politicians and civilians have initiated efforts to boycott made-in-China products after 20 Indian soldiers died during clashes with Chinese counterparts at a disputed border region.

India’s cabinet minister of consumer affairs, food, and public distribution Ram Vilas Paswan appealed to the Indian people not to buy any products from China and directed officials in his ministry to stop purchasing “made in China” stationery and other administrative items.

“I want to appeal to everyone that the way China is behaving, we boycott all Chinese products,” Paswan said at a press conference on June 18. “We have to give them a strong reply for their barbaric attack.”

India’s cabinet minister of social justice and empowerment Ramdas Bandu Athawale also called for boycotting Chinese products.

“China is a country that deceits. India should boycott all products from China. Chinese food and restaurants should be closed in India,” Athawale posted on Twitter on June 17.

Government Level

The Indian government also took action to ban Chinese tech products.

Local media NDTV reported on June 19 that the Indian telecom department has asked state-owned telecom carriers Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam (MTNL) to shun Chinese telecom equipment in their 4G network upgrading.

India does not yet have a 5G network. Computerworld quoted equipment suppliers on April 29 who said India may have its first 5G network in late 2021.

It’s unclear how much BSNL and MTNL rely on telecom equipment from Chinese suppliers.

But China’s largest telecom firms Huawei and ZTE have made significant inroads in the Indian market.

Huawei has over 4,000 employees in India, according to the company’s Linkedin profile. It also received a permit from the Indian government in December 2019 to team up with private telecom operators Airtel and Vodafone Idea for commercial 5G trials.

On June 18, Indian media, quoting officials, reported that New Delhi authorities plan to raise import tariffs on around 300 Chinese products in retaliation for the fatal clashes that occurred in the Ladakh region.

According to China’s Ministry of Commerce, China exported $68.37 billion-valued goods to India in 2019, while India exported $17.13 billion-valued goods to China, meaning the trade deficit reached $51.24 billion.

Civilian Level

On June 16, a political and cultural organization affiliated with the Indian left-wing party Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) urged the central government to bar Chinese companies from participating in government contracts.

The organization, called Swadeshi Jagaran Manch, also asked the Indian public to stop using Chinese products.

Locals soon responded to such appeals. Since June 17, people have gathered on the streets to burn Chinese flags and photos of Chinese leader Xi Jinping. Some brought their TV sets and computers that were made in China and smashed them.

The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), an organization that comprises 60 million merchants across 40,000 affiliates in the country, embarked on a new campaign, “Indian Goods–Our Pride” on June 17.

The organization is encouraging more domestic production in India to reduce the country’s reliance on Chinese imports.

CAIT told local media that the organization has listed about 3,000 types of products in 500 categories, as a focus for shifting to Indian manufacturing by December 2021.

These products include toys, fabrics, handbags, luggage, kitchen items, furniture, hardware, electronics, cosmetics, watches, jewelry, stationery, paper, auto parts, and so on. India annually imports about $13 billion in value of those goods from China.

Casualties’ Dignity

On June 18, India organized funerals for the dead soldiers in their hometowns.

Reuters reported that the Indian army used a military truck decked out with flowers to transport the body of Colonel B. Santosh Babu to his hometown of Suryapet in southern India. When the body arrived, local people shouted “Victory to Mother India” to show their respect.

Similar scenarios happened in other cities where funerals for the soldiers were held.

But the Chinese regime has so far refused to release their number of casualties in the clashes. State-run media has confirmed there were deaths on the Chinese side.

Hong Kong-based newspaper South China Morning Post quoted an anonymous source close to the Chinese army on June 17 who said numbers of military casualties had to be approved by leader Xi Jinping before being released.