Hundreds of traders burned Chinese goods yesterday and urged the government to raise import taxes on them to protest against China’s trade and foreign policies.
The traders, who also urged consumers to boycott Chinese imports, are concerned that Chinese products are hurting Indian manufacturers.
But there is also anger in India after China used its veto to block the UN Security Council from blacklisting a Pakistan-based Islamist leader.
Masood Azhar is the founder of the militant group Jaish-e-Mohamed (JeM), which claimed responsibility for a suicide bomb attack that killed at least 40 paramilitary police in Jammu and Kashmir in February.
China prevented a UN Security Council committee last Wednesday from blacklisting Masood.
It said it had done so to give more time for the committee to have consultations and study the issue.
China is India’s second biggest trading partner and a trade deficit has widened in favour of Beijing by nearly 75% to $63bn since 2014, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power.
Modi, who is seeking a second term in a general election beginning next month, faces criticism from both opposition parties and groups affiliated with his party for what they see as his failure to take steps to contain the growing influence of Chinese companies on the Indian economy.
The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), which represents millions of traders, said their action against Chinese goods was aimed at teaching it a lesson, after it used its veto to block Masood’s blacklisting.
In New Delhi, traders burned Chinese goods including laptops, mobile phones, computers, fax machines and toys at the Sadar Bazar, the city’s main market for Chinese goods.
Chinese good were burned in similar protests in several other cities.
“Traders across the country gave a strong message to China by burning Chinese goods ahead of the Holi festival. They set Chinese goods on fire at more than 1,500 places all over the country,” CAIT secretary general Praveen Khandelwal said.
Demonstrators also urged people to boycott Chinese goods, and asked the government to increase import tariffs on Chinese imports that they said were hurting small Indian manufacturers and costing millions of jobs.
“Since our SMEs are capable enough to produce these goods with good quality and at affordable prices, the government should encourage small industries and give them a special package so that our people can compete with China,” CAIT West Bengal Secretary-General Raja Roy said.
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