Who Suffers Most By Boycott of Chinese Goods?

July 25, 2020

“If you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.” - Sun Tzu (544-496 BC), Chinese General, military strategist, writer and philosopher.

China apparently knows about itself and about its enemies and has set an expansionist program not only in its relationship with India but also with other nations. Sun’s dictum apparently applies beyond war and covers trade as well. India, which has suffered because of China’s expansionist, aggressive stance, is thinking and talking about boycott of Chinese goods, technology and services. Before we go into the boycott proposal, a brief reference to the current level of mutual trade and technology aspects is relevant.

According to media reports, Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India, a Ministry of Railways PSU, has terminated a contract for signalling and telecom equipment awarded to Beijing National Railway and Research Group – valued at Rs 471 crores. India is also barring China from tendering for projects involving telecom. The sentiment of “Boycott Chinese Goods” is running high.

China is the second largest trading partner of India, after USA, with bilateral trade between April to December 2019 totalling $ 64.96 billion. While India’s exports were just 3%, imports from China continued to rise from 13.7 per cent in 2018/19 to 14.1 per cent in 2019/20.The import range includes everything from toys and engineering goods, electronics and pharma intermediates. 70% of India’s imports of active pharma ingredients, from which various final formulations are made, come from China. This may hold good if and when India mass-manufactures vaccine for Corona-19.

Come August 3, riding high on anti-China sentiments, an array of Sangh Parivar members have begun efforts to make this year's Rakhi a "China-less”, Swadeshi affair. "This year's Rakhi will be much more Swadeshi than past years. This year, (after the India-China border tensions), you won''t find persons who will advocate buying a Chinese Rakhi. “We have got 13 lakh people to sign our online forms supporting Swadeshi", claimed Swadeshi Jagran Manch. It said that to match the growing demand for domestic products, many Indian manufacturers have stepped up their production. It added that this year's response will determine whether Indian Rakhi makers can bet on going full throttle next year. .

In the multi-pronged efforts, India's traders association has come forward to ensure that this year, markets are flooded with local Rakhis. Confederation of All India Traders has asked all its state units to prepare a list of all Rakhi makers, data pertaining to local demand and supply ratio to ensure that their surplus products can be sent to other states where there is a growing demand.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given a call to 1.3 billion Indians to be "vocal for local" - suggesting that they should not only use domestic products but also promote them.

Looking at the supply side, manufacturing these toys would be made by poor families in China whose low-wage income would dry up if their products are boycotted by importers like in the current case of India boycotting Rakhies, toys, fire-crackers, decorative lanterns (good-deepas) and even images of Lord Ganesh. In other words, the poor in India and China will suffer the most.

I conclude with a folk tale. Two fishermen were manning a boat venturing into the sea for fishing. They were angry with each other on some matter. While away from the shore the elder fisherman saw his younger companion boring a hole in the bottom of the boat. The alarmed elder said: “What are you doing?” The youngster replied: “I am boring a hole only under my seat”. The elder responded: “We are sailing in the same boat”.

When two elephants are fighting, the ants are crushed under their feet. That is the potential situation we are in - the poor both in India and China hit the most.

The subject is open to many views. What are yours? Pleas post your response, preferably within four days, in the format given at the end of this topic-essay. Over to you.

My Tryst with Toys

I would crave the indulgence of readers to relate briefly my tryst with toys and more specifically Chinese toys.

As a resident of Mumbai’s up-market area I used to take (circa 1979/80) my 9/10 years old daughter for walk along Colaba Causway with showrooms displaying, among others, expensive toys such as dolls. Perhaps sensing my financial weakness, she never asked for those tempting toys.

About three years ago I started Johnlyn Toy Exchange to collect toys from those who no longer needed them, and in presentable condition, to present them to toy-deprived children in orphanages, Bala/Balika ashrams, etc, with hampers of toys and playthings to keep for themselves. Their joy on receiving their personal hampers is deeply imprinted in me and motivates me to continue this mission.

I had specially designed heavy-duty cardboard drop-boxes, with posters pasted on them, and placed them in churches, temples and schools with rewarding returns. In one such temple, in the suburbs of Mangaluru, the manager accepted to host the drop-box. After a fortnight he telephoned me to say that the box was overflowing and I should collect the toys. When I went there he pointed out to a toy shop in the temple complex and directed me there. Indeed the drop-box was overflowing and I emptied the contents into a large gunny-sack. The shop owner promised that in a fortnight another lot of toys would be ready.

On reaching home, I emptied the sack. Its contents were a variety of Chinese toys. Apparently what I got were unsaleable “rejects”. Chinese toys come cheap considering they can make a profit despite such large “rejects”. Whether at the temple complex or toy-selling shops in small towns and big cities, the main customers for Chinese toys are poor people.

(Those interested in donating toys, please Google ‘Johnlyn Toys’ or mobile me on 98862 76608)

Also read:



By John B Monteiro
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Comment on this article

  • Gration D souza, Kulshekar/Mangalore

    Tue, Jul 28 2020

    The views expressed by Mr. Rudolf Rodrigues, Mumbai, are suits present times of india. Some of the facts of two wheelers marketing by Bajaj ,TVS & Hero companies are wonderful , how they driven out the Chinese companies from African countries and gain monopoly. It won't be hard to drive out most of the Chinese goods from India.

  • Manu, Mangalore

    Tue, Jul 28 2020

    One can survive without Chinese products and its our duty to support our nation, our motherland.

  • John B. Monteiro, Bondel Mangalore

    Mon, Jul 27 2020

    Thank you Rudolf Sir for your very encouraging response. I look forward to receiving your own detailed response. I recall your responses to my articles in Daiji and got the impression that you are a doctor. I look forward to your participation in this fortnightly column.

  • Rudolf Rodrigues, Mumbai

    Mon, Jul 27 2020

    Dear John Sir,
    Your lucid post on the subject came at the very right time!
    The post below is from the net, very interesting, brilliant & practical! It gives an insight into the difference on how the Chinese and Indians work!

    I will post my personal views shortly as the previous post occupied the limited space in the box!

  • Rudolf Rodrigues, Mumbai

    Mon, Jul 27 2020

    dolf Rodrigues, MumbaiFri, Jul 3 2020
    A couple of WhatsApp group that I am a part of should be renamed the China Problem group. Ninety percent of discussions is on how China hijacked the world economy, how they do not deserve to do so, how all politicians have let us down, how they are stealing all intellectual property and how we are doomed if we do not stop downloading Tiktok.

    All true. And no, this article is not about disagreeing with this narrative. This article is not about the fact that an average Chinese student in the US beats the hell of all other students (including Indians) in terms of hours she works and the only disadvantage she has is that her English is not good enough, but she is getting there.

    No, this article is not about the fact that the people of China worked their butts off while Italians holidayed and French wanted a four-day workweek. No, this article is not about the fact that one cannot hire a decent machinist or a forger in India because all of them are sitting in call centres answering questions from technically-challenged Americans. Of course, I agree and support the view that China and its people do not deserve the place they have reached (I don’t want to be trolled). After all, they are intellectual property (IP) thieves and do not take four-week holidays. They should be punished.

    So what is this article about? This is about an industry where China has been beaten by India. It has been shown that it’s not the government, neither the people; it’s really the companies that compete. And as far as India is concerned the people responsible for the demise of manufacturing in the county are these companies.

    In 1983, I graduated out of a Mumbai engineering college considered to be one of the best. Irrespective of the branch that you studied—mechanical, electrical, civil, production, textile—80 percent of the graduates became coders for the software industry.

    In 2000, I was at Bajaj Auto as human resources (HR) head (after working 15 years in technical capacity), and I was off to conduct campus interviews to hire 100 engineers who would design and build world-class motorcycles. On day 5, I was in Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute (VJTI), Mumbai and all other regional engineering colleges (RECs). I ended up hiring ten people from 15 colleges. In every college I was told by the training and placement officer (TPO) that technology companies get preference in hiring. I asked, were designing and building an engine not technology? No, that’s manufacturing, I was told. Writing COBOL code for a bank in New York by a software company employee is technology. May be the Chinese forced us into this thinking.

    The following year I wrote to all colleges. I want to be day 0 in your campus. I will give three times salary of the “so called best technology company”, but only if I am day 0. Hiring 100 engineers at three times salary was no problem for me as compared to say TCS, which had to hire 2,000 “bodies”. They could never match that salary.

    And that’s how Bajaj Auto built its research and development—batch by batch. Making designing and manufacturing of motorcycles sexy and paying for it. The selection ratio was 1:15. Most of the IITs, RECs, and VJTIs had toppers who were absolutely useless. They could not draw a Carnot cycle, could not tell the difference between a diesel and petrol engine. Give them an elevation and plan they could not draw the side view. Most of them were focusing on writing code. But we found gems, we found guys who were passionate and knowledgeable but could not express in English. I started conducting interviews in Hindi, Marathi, Telugu, Tamil and so on.

    There was another company using the same approach—TVS. Based in south India, they also built a great R&D department.

    In 2005, Chinese motorcycles attacked India with products which were 30 percent cheaper. Many dealers started selling them. Press predicted demise of Indian manufacturers. But within six months they went broke. Their quality was no match to Indian motorcycles. They never came back again.

    Bajaj then started attacking them in Africa. Africans had two choices: buy expensive Japanese motorcycles or cheap Chinese ones. Chinese motorcycles used to come in a box. You bought the box and took it to a mechanic and he would assemble it.

    In Nigeria motorcycles are used as taxis. So no one is going to pay you a dime more than the basic requirement. In such a market Bajaj launched its fully assembled motorcycle. It was priced more than the Chinese models but less than the Japanese ones. The company set up dealerships, service centres, trained mechanics and developed a relationship with the taxi riders. Today Bajaj is a market leader. TVS is number two. The Chinese have been driven out.

    You can see videos of the love that the okada (taxi) drivers have for Bajaj bikes. Country after country in Africa and in South America Indians companies captured the market driving their Chinese counterparts out.

    In 2018 India became the largest manufacturer of two wheelers in the world (producing twice more than China). Indian companies have started buying out European brands. The market leader of motorcycles in Europe is not BMW, its KTM, which is part-owned by Bajaj. China is slipping fast not only in the manufacturing of bikes, but also in the manufacturing of components. Indian suppliers are beating them hands down. Between three Indian companies—Hero, Bajaj and TVS—India today dominates the world motorcycle market.

    Why was this not done in TVs, computers, mobile phones, pharmaceuticals and other industries? It’s the same country, same labour laws, same infrastructure, but not the same entrepreneurs. Indian businessmen are characterized by a myopic vision—it’s both, short-term outlook as well as geographically limited. Of course, the government also does not help.

    So who is responsible for the Chinese dominance—the government, people or the corporates?

    I think it’s all the three. When even ITI-trained turners and fitters refuse to work in a shop floor, when a stock broker is paid more than an engineer, when typing code is mistaken for technology, when governments refuse to amend antique labour and land laws, when corporates think local and not global, and finally when you, yes you the reader, will not send your son or daughter to work on the shop floor, each one of these factors is as responsible for the Chinese dominance as as their “ethical corruption”. We have been looted because we left our doors and windows open.

    No, this article is not supporting the Chinese. How dare they work so hard? And how dare they obey a communist government? We should stop buying all their goods and we will make everything in our country. But we will work nine to five with a three-day weekend. We will overcome. One day.

    Srinivas Kantheti is the managing director of WheelsEMI

  • Rohan, Mangalore

    Sun, Jul 26 2020

    Reading all the views at large it reminds me of an important stoicism principle to Consider Worst Case Scenarios and 2 of Seneca's sayings
    1.We should remind our spirits all the time that they love things that will leave no, better, things that are already leaving. You possess whatever is given by Fortune without a guarantor. If an evil has been pondered beforehand, the blow is gentle when it comes.
    2.Consolation of the fool, however, and to him who trusts in fortune, each event as it arrives "comes in a new and sudden form," and a large part of evil, to the inexperienced, consists in its novelty. This is proved by the fact that men endure with greater courage, when they have once become accustomed to them, the things which they had at first regarded as hardships.
    My view yesterday was hoping for the best and today its preparing for the worst. Both views are completing each other I guess.

  • John B. Monteiro, Bondel Mangalore

    Sun, Jul 26 2020

    Santosh: Thank you for your opening lines. I am not a quiz-master to answer your interesting and, may be, relevant questions. My writings are focused on the subjects I choose to write on and then I research and write.
    The Welcome to Reason platform is wide open to respondents at large to answer and project their views. I have found Daijiworld the most liberal receptor of views from its readers.
    Since you have a searching mind and wide-spectrum interest, you may be interested in my weekly column in Edex (p12) on every Monday, the supplement for students and readers at large, published in its 29 editions. It can be enquired into at Email:edexlive@gmail.com

  • John B. Monteiro, Bondel Mangalore

    Sun, Jul 26 2020

    Jairam: You were missed in action last fortnight. The loss is ours.
    Did you have to go to Brussels to see the statue of the little boy peeing? You could have the darshan of thousands of such peeing (and worse) persons of all ages in India’s public spaces. Your concluding line is pregnant with earthy wisdom. Way to go!

  • John, Mangalore

    Sun, Jul 26 2020

    More heavenly warnings on China and Russia dated 24 July...

    “The world is slowly moving towards the Great Chastisement, which is the Third World War. Watch China and Russia move swiftly, because America, Australia and Britain are being misled – even though the evil one makes it very clear of what is to come upon the world very soon. I ask Our children to pray fervently, because after the Chastisement of the COVID 19 the world will be at peace for a very little while and, to the surprise of many, the Third World War will come unannounced.”...

    Ref: https://littlepebble.org/2020/07/25/message-812-24-july-2020/


    Sun, Jul 26 2020

    Perceptive, persuasive and very level headed! John, the points you have raised reflect the stark reality of the socio-political situation. There is not much we can do. I remember seeing the famous statue in Brussels - Manneken Pis, of a little boy peeing. There are many legends about how the sculpture came about. But my favourite story is that it represents the little's boy's reaction to invaders. He couldn't fight against the invaders and couldn't drive them back, but at least he could piss in contempt! Similarly, we can't go to war with China unless we are prepared to risk the painful consequences. Even a boycott of Chinese goods will hurt us, and yes, the poor will become collateral damage. But perhaps we could mitigate their pain through subsidies and grants. It's not going to be easy but then no war is.

  • Santosh Rodrigues, Mangalore/ Dubai

    Sun, Jul 26 2020

    A very thought provoking article, Mr Monteiro, thank you.

    Please allow me to respond with pertinent questions

    "Sometimes we miss reality in plain sight "

    What was the outcome of political tensions between our major country? Military spending
    When our country chose Dassault Rafale, was it the fastest and latest? Its roughly 35% to 50% of the best in the world . So there's much better out there.
    Who are the stakeholders in this company? Europe and USA
    Are they doing business or charity? Business
    How to ensure profitability, outsource OEM and keep costs low and margins higher, right? Yes
    Which country is most cost competitive manufacturinginthe world? Guess
    After purchasing are our problems solved? No
    Are we budgeting maintenance costs, do we have local capacity to match low costs? Our budgets are not on a tight rope but shorter one even to meet past maintenance of infrastructure and equipment. But that will be someone else's problem.

    Overall, its good to have nice thoughts, opinions and perspectives but reality bites.

    Let's hope the illusion of boycotting isn't too cloudy to see clearly.

  • John B. Monteiro, Bondel Mangalore

    Sun, Jul 26 2020

    Good Morning! I welcome you all early-bird responders on this interactive platform and wish you a happy, restful Sunday.
    Rohan: There are no qualifications for coming on this platform. May your dream of world without barriers come true.
    Mangalorian: Thank for your consistently encouraging comment on my topic-essays. One need not agree with them. Your bringing in colonial past makes a point. But, it may be time to dump this baggage and move forward.
    Joel: You are the most distant responder to this column. Thank you. You have broadly endorsed the theme of the topic-essay. Fellow readers will share your optimism because hope lives eternal in the human breast.
    Vincent: Your convoluted connections are well taken. Pl stay on with this column.
    Krishna: You have a very positive take on Swadeshi and your concern for both Indian and Chinese poor lifts the subject above jingoism.
    Prescilla Madam: Like a mother you embrace all poor, Chinese or Indian, and your call to go forward with Made in India is pregnant with possibilities.
    John: Your analysis about Chinese expansionism sounds credible. But, let us pray that China and Russia be spared the earthquakes predicted.
    Save My India: Your emphasis on contingency plans in India goes well with your charming pen name.

  • Gration D souza, Kulshekar/Mangalore

    Sun, Jul 26 2020

    It's truly a good reason for our country to boycott imports of fancy as well as cheap goods from china which is a enimy country of us. We should think when the decision is taken from the govt. to ban such goods to be imported from these countries , being a indian we should support and honour the issue. Any common man will understand the fact for doing so. Subsequently insted of showing sympathy for the entrepreneurs of the enimy country support make in india program and start some good projects. It will create more opportunities to our youth.

  • Save my India, India.

    Sat, Jul 25 2020

    Without having contingency plans , India will suffer more on account of boycott of Chinese stuff. while it may hurt pretty little for China on the other hand.
    Jai Hind!!!!

  • John, Mangalore

    Sat, Jul 25 2020

    It is more appropriate to say our poor are not suffering due to lack of cheaper toys but our poor had to suffer and starve because of their evil virus and it's consequences.

    Firstly, cheaper toys / items only to make business worth billions to build their (Chinese) economy, military and infrastructure. Because it is cheaper and attractive people fall prey to buy them thereby supporting Chinese economy.

    Secondly, Post fall of Berlin wall and Soviet union communism spread silently in US, Canada Europe where more than half support atheism and socialist communism, in some countries also having left leaning ruling coalition or trying to gain power in others. China silently and slowly trying to control whole world by giving huge loans to some smaller nations, pressuring bigger nations also it controls significantly UN and WHO, IMF and world bank. They have made billions through cheap products 1, 5, 10 Dh/Dlr /£ (most of them goes to garbage after a month or so) to build their military, infrastructure and financial might. Also by supporting and financing infrastructure in our neighboring countries, it looks like as if they have surrounded our country.

    Thirdly, cunningly using Corona virus they are trying to destroy economy of all other nations. Once done their plan to conquer Asia then US. Communist Russia will do the same with ME and Europe. Temporary they might use other smaller nations but eventually their aim to bring their ruthless godless rule everywhere.

    God's intervention only way to stop their evil agenda. It has been prophesied severe earthquakes in China and Russia at an appropriate time, referred below.

    Ref: http://www.fatherofloveandmercy.wordpress.com/2013/07/03/there-will-be-powerful-earthquakes-in-russia-and-china-soon-and-they-will-take-place-one-after-the-other/

  • Prescilla Fernandes, Mangalore

    Sat, Jul 25 2020

    Monteiro Sir, yet another thought provoking article. It is true that poor will stay poor in whichever country they live in. Let us try our best to be self sufficient. Let "Sarve Jana Sukhino Bhavanthu" be our mantra. Let's go forward with " Made in India" .

  • Krishna, Mangaluru

    Sat, Jul 25 2020

    An arguable point of view.

    China is using its money power for aggression. Let it use its money for its poor. China's poverty problem is solved.

    India has suffered from many type of job loses due to lockdown. Migrants have lost jobs. Here in coastal area many auto drivers, beedi workers lost jobs thanks to lockdown. How to generate jobs for them? If by making rakhis migrants earn a little bit of money staying in their villages itself why not we support swadeshi campaign? Succcess fully depends on how fast swadeshi jagran manch can train our poor in rural areas to make this kind of stuffs.

    This will create a win-win situation for Indian and Chinese poor if executed properly. Don't be pessimistic.

  • Vincent Dsa, Dubai/Manipal

    Sat, Jul 25 2020

    China must have calculated enough before making its move. That too after a tasty breakfast at Chennai beach resort. It is challenging every neighbor to spread its influence in the absence of Russia. Russia is a military superpower but it has limitations in its economic might where China is flourishing. Future belongs to China. These temporary small steps from India do not bother it . The Chinese aggression is a result of India's revocation of article 370 in J&K. It is a message to Indian PM by Chinese PM to convey that you are not bigger than me. It achieved its objectives by the type of response we gave to the situation.

  • Joel Martis, Stanford, USA

    Sat, Jul 25 2020

    Dear Mr. Monteiro,

    Thanks for your article. I agree with you - as with anything else (pandemic, market crash, climate change), it is the poor that suffer the most. Cutting off Chinese supply chains will mean that prices of many goods will increase in India - the poor will have the most to lose. Unless we can replace these supply chains with domestic ones, it's tough to see how India comes out on top.

  • Mangalurian, Mangaluru

    Sat, Jul 25 2020

    Yet another great article, Mr Monteiro.

    My view here on a small point in your article: China’s expansionist, aggressive stance.

    Honestly I don't know if I can agree with that.

    When British ruled parts of India, they arbitrarily decided on many borders. These borders then were inherited by an independent India.

    But did the British ever consult China on the accuracy on these borders? No. How can we say that the British were right, particularly when they had no respect for China?

    On another aspect of the "expansionist, aggressive stance", let us look at the foreign bases, often forcibly acquired by the goras:

    US: 800 military bases in more than 70 countries
    Britain: 16 bases

    China: one (in Djibouti)

    Goras, having controlled the world for 400 years, have been getting sleepless nights at the progress and might of China. So India is being pushed forward as a bunny.

    Why does India never learn?

  • Rohan, Mangalore

    Sat, Jul 25 2020

    Dear Sir,
    I am not qualified to comment on this topic, one because of the sensitivity of the subject another my limited experience on it.
    Nevertheless I dream about a world without barriers, where one day we are all earthizens and can roam about freely and trade without entry barriers.
    These are temporary setbacks and if not us our children will see a world that has unity in all human aspects combined but still maintains its diversity within...

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