A powerful business body in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state Gujarat has announced a boycott of Chinese goods, two years after he wooed President Xi Jinping at the picturesque Sabarmati riverfront to boost trade ties between the Asian giants.
Modi and Jinping had posed for a memorable photograph on a swing at the riverfront in September 2014 in what was seen as a ground-breaking moment in Sino-Indian ties.
In the backdrop of China siding with Pakistan following the surgical strikes by the Indian army across the LoC, the Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industries (GCCI) — a body of two lakh small and medium-scale business owners — has given a boycott call for all varieties of Chinese products.
The boycott call has come at a time when over 100 Chinese companies have pledged to invest around Rs 6,000 crore by 2020 in Gujarat in projects ranging from infrastructure development to smart cities, electrical and textile parks and chemical sector.
The boycott may not directly harm the investment pledge by Chinese companies but could damage the carefully cultivated rapport of Gujarat with China by Modi.
“The GCCI has appealed to its over 200 associations comprising around two lakh small and medium-scale businesses and industries owners across Gujarat, to boycott all types of Chinese products,” said Bipin Patel, GCCI president.
Patel maintained that while the presence of Chinese goods have always hurt local industries, the business entity would like to put an end to this in “national interest” when China is seen as supporting Pakistan over cross-border terrorism.
On Thursday, the Rajkot Chamber of Commerce and Industries also wrote to the CM and the prime minister requesting them to make the boycott official.
In Gujarat, they already seem to have gained support of the government.
“We believe in the mantra of Swadeshi. We would prefer to see people use Indian products instead of foreign-made,” chief minister Vijay Rupani said on Tuesday.
The Congress, however, is not amused.
“On one hand, the BJP government is supporting the boycott, and on the other, it continues with its efforts to attract big ticket projects through events like Vibrant Gujarat Global Investment Summit. There has been no clarity in their stand,” said Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi.