Wang Xiaofeng, Beijing/ Shonali Khandelwal & Roopa Debroy, Delhi
Despite calls for boycott of Chinese goods in India, it seems to be business as usual with China for some of India’s big business groups.
On a day the hawkish ‘Global Times’ upholding the views of the hardliners in the Chinese establishment welcomed Indian PM Narendra Modi’s ‘no intrusion’ speech as ‘good for de-escalation, a big Chinese signed a substantial deal with India’s Adani group.
East Hope Group, one of China’s largest private companies, said it will invest $300 million in setting up manufacturing units at the Mundra SEZ in partnership with Indian infrastructure giant Adani Group.
The memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed by the two firms proposes to set up manufacturing units in Mundra Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Gujarat to produce solar power generation equipment, chemicals, aluminium and animal feed, a statement by the Indian Consulate in Shanghai said.
It will also put in place East Hope Group’s engineering and industrial integration chain to recycle and economise the product cost at Mundra SEZ, it said.
The MoU was signed between Amit Uplenchar, President of Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone and Meng Changjun, President of East Hope Group (Investment) in the presence of Consul General Prakash Gupta yesterday.
The MoU is proposed to convert into a definitive agreement within a period of 180 days and would cover areas of specific cooperation outlined as per agreement between the two sides, the statement said.
An estimated investment of more than $300 million is expected to be made by the East Hope Group in India, as part of the proposed cooperation between the two companies.
East Hope, the Chinese counterpart signing the MoU, is a Renminbi 70 billion Group, and is one of the largest corporate houses in China, having business interests in aluminium, polysilicon, power and animal feed.
In a much smaller but significant deal , Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio, the only pan-India BWA license holder, has imported 4,35,000 new 4G SIM cards from China.
That at a time when anti-Chinese sentiments are sweeping across India and calls for boycott of Chinese goods are mounting.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has asked PM Modi to block Chinese companies from entering kwy sectors of the Indian economy.
Reliance has imported these 4.35 lakhs SIM cards at a cost of Rs. 93,92,846, according to data published by an import tracking website, Zauba.com.
Jio, last month, launched its much-awaited 4G service, albeit only for group employees. The complimentary offer for group staff will continue until Jio launches its 4G services commercially later this year.
The ‘Global Times’ this week lauded PM Modi’s speech about their being no intrusion by China across the LAC as positive and helpful to de-escalate border tensions .
” He (Modi) understands his country cannot have further conflict with China so he is also making an effort to cool tensions,” the paper said.
“Modi’s remarks will be very helpful to ease the tensions because as the Prime Minister of India, he has removed the moral basis for hardliners to further accuse China,” Lin Minwang, a professor at Fudan University’s Center for South Asian Studies in Shanghai, told the paper.
“When India is in conflict with Pakistan or other neighbours, nationalism might drive New Delhi to take actual operations, but when it comes to China, it is a different story.”
Wei Dongxu, a military expert, said the PM’s comments on the armed forces being allowed to take necessary steps was “a show of strength for domestic audiences to appease the Indian masses and boost the Indian troops’ morale”.
On Union Minister Gen. V.K. Singh (retd.) saying China had lost at least 40 soldiers, the paper said he wanted “to placate the nationalists by making speculations and satisfy the hardliners.”
In an article in the China Daily on Saturday, analyst Lan Jianxue of the China Institute of International Studies blamed the “the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party pushing forward its ultranationalist Hindutva agendas one after another through aggressive domestic and foreign policies”.
“The unilateral change of Kashmir’s autonomous status by India heightened tensions with Pakistan while the inclusion of Chinese territory into its so-called newly formed Union Territory of Ladakh triggered the confrontation with China on the border,” he said.
He referred to the PM’s remarks from 2018 saying there were “occasional incidents in the border areas due to differing perceptions about the Line of Actual Control” and both countries had managed to resolve those peacefully. “It is hoped that India will abide by that statement,” he added.
The Adanis and the Ambanis are known to be close to Modi.
In 2014, Modi created a bit of a brand controversy flying around to campaign in a Adani corporate jet during elections.
Modi had used a fleet of three Adani-owned aircraft –– a jet and two choppers —- during his election campaign, but it’s his flight as Prime Minister-designate that has generated controversy.
“As a man about to occupy the country’s highest office, why advertise an association with a private company?” said Santosh Desai, brand consultant and social commentator.
“I think this is bigger than brand promotion. It is about a perception and an association that should have been avoided,” Desai had told The Telegraph .
“Inching towards new heights of crony capitalism,” was how computer researcher Sumit Shekhar interpreted the photograph in a tweet.
( Rewrite by Subir Bhaumik).