Can India become ‘Atamnirbhar’ by throwing away Chinese investment of billions of dollars?

K S Tomar

K S Tomar

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Chinese Investment vs ‘Atamnirbharta

A huge investment of $5.5 billion in 18 out of 30 top Indian start-ups coupled with $184 billion trade deficit may be in jeopardy as China has vitiated and created an atmosphere of hatred in India, due to cruel killings of our soldiers, leading to nationwide anger against the Dragon.

investment tradeThe Indian government faces one of the biggest challenges in history- whether to boycott China and nullify the investment of Chinese or utilize diplomatic channels to defuse the situation, which may escalate in the form of a mini war.

The killings of Indian soldiers by deceit at Ladhakh border, while dialogue was ongoing to de-escalate the tension between the two nations has exposed China in international criticism.

However, it will be a defining moment for India on how it chooses to tackle this situation. We need to move strategically and not Emotionally to avert a serious crisis, as we are already fighting a war against COVID 19, a thought resonated by many foreign policy strategists.

China india
India China war 1962

Experts opine that China had behaved treacherously in 1962 also, but now there is a huge difference- in the modernisation of their military and international standing of both countries. Hence, chances of war seem remote at the moment.

India has been sincerely trying to adopt neutral stance and avoided commenting on internal affairs like unrest in Hongkong. On the same pattern, India did not react to allegations of US and other countries about intentional hiding of truth about outbreak of corona virus by China.

Interestingly, senior retired army generals are divided over the issue of intrusion by china which has been vehemently denied by PM though strategist experts have written articles thereby emphasizing the mischief done by China to alter common patrolling finger points.

investment china seaSurprisingly, China has been riddled in multiple disputes, including South China Sea debacle with some sovereign states, the Covid-19 issue, multiple confrontations with the United States and other nations like Australia etc, and now, borders skirmishes with India. All these might block it’s ambition to become the number one super power superseding America.

Analysts opine that Indian citizens had voted Narendra Modi back to power after decisive surgical strikes on terrorists training camps of JEM, LET and Hizbul Mujahideen, which were protected and patronised by Pakistan, after the Pulwama attack.




Similarly, there is anger and pain across the country right now and huge expectations of retaliation, beginning with economic boycott against China. This seems to be a remote possibility, as China is not as insignificant and a financial wreck like Pakistan and it has huge investment in Indian companies.

Multiple defence experts have done micro level analysis of the entire scenario, which is extremely serious and different from what meets the eye. The situation is being attributed to the following factors-

1. Testing the commitment and friendship of United States with India as USA wants to isolate China

Narendra Modi with Donald Trump

Experts believe that by showing aggression towards India, one thing is certain that China wants to see the extent to which Donald Trump will go to show his solidarity with his friend the Indian PM, Narender Modi. One can draw an analogy with Russia, who stood with late PM Indira Gandhi during 1971 war with Pakistan.

China might be testing the depth of ties which might be detrimental to its next move against United States. Also, Trump has openly blamed China for hiding the truth about the outbreak of corona virus attack which has shaken America, further alienating China.

2. Policy of expansion and an ambition to become Super Power to replace America

China has spread its tentacles to expand in Asia, which is evident from the huge Build and Bolt Road project which has already economically enslaved Pakistan through a heavy long term loan. It may be impossible for Pakistan to even pay interest, as its coffers are empty.

Investment Nepal chinaIt has openly roped in Nepal which has indulged in a big mischief of redrawing the Map to include three Indian areas viz. Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura in its territories.

It was impossible for Nepal to take such an anti-India step without support from China. Sri Lanka’s Habantota port and Skyline infrastructures projects are dominated by Chinese companies and loans from China.

3. Beijing strategy to tighten grip over Tibet

One of the biggest irritants of China pertains to Dalai Lama, since India provided asylum to him in 1959. At the outset of the 1959 Tibetan uprising, fearing for his life, the Dalai Lama and his retinue fled Tibet with the help of the CIA’s Special Activities Division, crossing into India.

investment tibet china
Representative of five Tibetan NGOs call for the boycott of chinese goods while expressing solidarity with India

As per Zennifer Latson, in 1959, a Chinese general invited the 14th Dalai Lama to see a performance by a Chinese dance troupe. But when he was told to come to the Chinese military headquarters without soldiers or armed bodyguards, according to his official biography, the Tibetans sensed a trap.

On March 17, in 1959, Tibet’s spiritual and political leader, then 23, disguised himself as a soldier and slipped through the crowds outside the palace he’d never see again. He embarked on a dangerous journey to asylum in India, crossing the Himalayas on foot with a retinue of soldiers and cabinet members.

dalai lama
Dalai Lama

The Chinese are hell bent upon interfering in the selection of the successor of current Dalai Lama. The Chinese government most probably will appoint another Dalai Lama, like it did with the Panchen Lama. Then there will be two Dalai Lamas- one, the Dalai Lama of the Tibetan heart, and one elected by the Chinese government.

Additionally, in the quest to strengthen its grip over Tibet, China is trying to ferment trouble on border. The US has hinted that it will oppose any move by China to impose its own Dalai Lama on the Tibetan people as Washington believes that the decision to pick the successor to Tibet’s top Buddhist leader should be as per religious traditions and the State has no role in it.

This situation has been a huge irritant for China, especially India’s role of permitting Dalai Lama to flourish in Dharamshala in HP.

3. Rapid border infrastructure development by India

Rapid development of infrastructure by India on the borders has irked China. Hence negative intentions have been building up since winter and India remained a silent spectator.

Chinese troops skirmishes in Sikkim and Ladhakh sector of LOC had flared up the entire situation and finally ended in killings of Indian soldiers.

4. World-wide negative perception of China

China faces wrath of several countries about misleading the WHO and the world about the spread of Corona virus. Trump has nakedly blamed China for concealing the truth about virus, which could have prevented the spread of the virus and saved thousands of citizens across the world.

investment China coronaEven Australia demanded probe into the entire episode, which left China furious. Some organisations have filed cases in court and demanded damages from China for blatantly lying about the Corona virus attack.

In this way, there is a strong anti-China perception which might have weakened there standing as a super-power.

5. Checking military preparedness of India

CHINA’S misadventure was aimed at checking the alertness and military preparations of India along borders which may help it to finalize its future defence policy.

indian army
Representational image

China has over 2 million troops employed in active military service compared to 1.3 million on the Indian side. Its defence budget is four times at USD 225 billion compared to that of India, which is approximately USD 55 billion.

China’s tank strength stands at a stupendous 13,000 plus compared to India’s 4,100 plus. And its armoured fighting vehicles are at a staggering 40,000, India pales into insignificance with just over 2,800.

Similarly, it has ten times the rocket projectors at 2050 versus India’s 266.As far as prowess at the sea is concerned, China has a total of 714 naval assets compared to 295 of India, with 76 submarines versus 16 owned by India. Our north-eastern neighbour also has three times the number of destroyers at 33 compared with 11 owned by us


All eyes are on the Indian government to implement a bold decision- to honour the public demands, which is gaining momentum with each passing day, to boycott Chinese products and companies.

However, this is extremely counter-intuitive economically as alternatives are not in place at the moment.

investment boycott
A Congress protest against China in Kolkata

Experts say that it is a rare opportunity to switch over to ‘Self-Reliant India’ by cutting imports and cheap products from China. But domestic manufactures will have to accept this challenge of building capabilities and creating supply-chains which will reduce the dependence upon foreign goods, raw materials etc.

India will have to opt for indigenous infrastructures in technology, telecom, solar energy, railways etc and keep China’s investment out. Indians’ habit of Made in China cheap products must end, even though locally manufactured products might cost more due to good quality.

The PM and Opposition are face to face as latter is raising several questions which may heat up political temperature in the near future. In a sharp response to the Chinese misadventure, the PM made it clear during an all party meeting that “no Indian post is in the possession of China and no intrusion has taken place. India will not permit even a inch to enemy and we will teach them a lesson as entire country is behind us”.

modi china
PM Modi observed two minutes silence for the soldiers before starting a scheduled meeting with Chief Ministers.

Earlier PM had said, “I want to assure the nation that the sacrifice made by our soldiers will not go in vain. India’s integrity and sovereignty is supreme for us, and no one can stop us from defending it. Nobody should have an iota of doubt about this. India wants peace. But when provoked, India will give a befitting reply.”

The remark, at the beginning of Modi’s recent interaction with Chief Ministers on the fight against Corona virus, came against the backdrop of criticism of the Centre’s response to the Chinese aggression, and marked the country going a step higher on the escalatory ladder on the LAC.

The officers and jawans fought when they were ambushed by a numerically superior PLA contingent. “The country will be proud of the fact that our soldiers killed (their attackers) before they were martyred,” Modi said.

The intent to avenge the loss of lives — the single biggest toll since a clash between the two sides in 1967 — came through clearly as the PM hailed the way Indian soldiers faced Chinese aggressors.

“Whatever may be the situation and circumstances, India will firmly protect every inch of the country’s land and its self-respect,” the PM said at the meeting with CMs where a two-minute silence was observed in honour of those who lost their lives. He called them “brave sons of Mother India”.

sonia chinaActing AICC president Sonia Gandhi raised several queries pertaining to attack on soldiers and failure of the external intelligence agencies.

Rahul Gandhi while responding to Rajnath Singh’s tweet, which called the death of 20 Indian soldiers “deeply disturbing and painful”, said the Indian Army had been “insulted” by the Defence Minister not naming China in his tweet.

Gandhi also demanded to know why Rajnath Singh had tweeted a full two days after the clash between the two militaries – the first involving fatalities since 1975.

rahul tweet“If it was so painful, why insult Indian Army by not naming China in your tweet? Why take 2 days to condole? Why address rallies as soldiers were being martyred? Why hide and get the Army blamed by crony media? Why make paid-media blame Army instead of GOI?,” Rahul Gandhi tweeted.

The fallout of the demand for complete boycott of Chinese goods is alarming as it will inflict losses of almost INR 1.19 lakh crores on Indian economy, India had imported various products, raw materials etc worth INR 4.70 lakh crore between April, 2019 and Feb, 2020 whereas export to China was a meagre INR 1.10 lakh crores, numbers which are worrying and troublesome, really making us reflect on our internal capabilities and China’s deep ranging control and huge investments in Indian industries.

Is a blanket ban on Chinese goods and services immediately really the solution?

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K S Tomar

K S Tomar

The writer, a senior political analyst, is a former Editor of the Hindustan Times' Rajasthan edition and has spent nearly four decades in journalism, including a six year stint in Nepal where he covered Sino-India-Nepal complex relationship and had a ringside seat to the Himalayan Kingdom's transition into democracy.

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