India-China conflict: India takes a step further to block Chinese products

The Indian government has tweaked the rules to promote the Make in India and Aatmanirbhar Bharat (Self-reliant India) campaign, which is going to add to China’s woes. According to the new rules, all foreign sellers registering their products to be sold in India will have to mention the “country of origin” in the Government e-Marketplace (GeM) — a state-run online portal — the government said. 

“Sellers, who had already uploaded their products before the introduction of this new feature on GeM, are being reminded regularly to update the Country of Origin, with a warning that their products shall be removed from GeM if they fail to update the same,” the government said. 

“With this new feature, now, the Country of Origin as well as the local content percentage are visible in the marketplace for all items,” the government said. “More importantly, the ‘Make in India’ filter has now been enabled on the portal. Buyers can choose to buy only those products that meet the minimum 50% local content criteria,” the statement added.

“The government should extend the rules to all platforms so that consumers get a choice not to buy Chinese products,” said Ashwani Mahajan, co-convenor of Swadeshi Jagran Manch.

After the last week’s deadly clash between the troops of India and China at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Galwan valley which left casualties on both the sides, multiple people and organisations have called for a complete boycott of Chinese products. Sonam Wangchuk, an Indian engineer, innovator and education reformist who became popular after the release of the movie 3 Idiots, where Aamir Khan’s character was inspired by him. Wangchuk urged citizens to give up all Chinese products. “Give up all Chinese software in a week, all Chinese hardware in a year,” Wangchuk said in the recent video.

Trade bodies have also called for a boycott of Chinese products. “To achieve this goal, CAIT has prepared a comprehensive list of about 3000 products imported from China for which Indian substitutes and alternatives are easily available and customers of India will also not mind because all those things are already made in India,” said the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) secretary-general, Praveen Khandelwal and National President, B.C. Bhartia.

China has rubbished the impact of such a boycott on its economy in any way. China’s state-run Global Times (GT) said that Indians can hardly resist buying Chinese quality goods and that such calls for a boycott are nothing more than hollow threats. “India will suffer more losses if it launches a trade war against China,” it said. However, it is noted that India’s trade deficit with China during the last financial year, is at a 5 year low. It has narrowed down to $48.7 billion during the last year as compared with $53.6 billion a year ago. The fall in imports with China has made the US as India’s largest trading partner with a trade of $88.8 billion as compared to $82 billion with China.

With the rising anti-China sentiment, the government has directed the state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL), a telecommunication company, to not use Chinese equipment in its 4G up-gradation in view of security issues.