India on Tuesday sharply reacted to a state media report that hinted that local Chinese traders had the right to take radical steps like abducting Indian businessmen who delayed or defaulted on payments promised on purchases in advance.
The report referred to cases in the last couple of years where Indian purchasers have defaulted to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments to local traders in the eastern China trade hub of Yiwu, possibly the world’s largest market for small commodities.Two Indian traders, for example, who were abducted in December and freed in January, continue to be in Shanghai fighting a complex legal battle.
Written by a professor from the China University of Political Science and Law, Tuesday’s opinion piece said: “Those Indian merchants who deliberately don't pay for their goods betray the trust of their Yiwu counterparts and damage the interests of the sellers. It is understandable that the sellers may adopt some radical actions to demand payment, given the potential damage to their business.”
Referring to an earlier case, the author Wu Danhong wrote: “After a number of failed negotiations to get the payment, the furious Chinese decided to solve the issue by force. They illegally detained the Indian and took back their goods.”
The opinion piece was published in the Global Times newspaper, part of the government mouthpiece, People’s Daily family and known for its stringent nationalistic articles and opinions.
Reacting to it, the Indian Embassy here shot off a letter to the newspaper underlining its unease at the tone of the write-up.
“It is extraordinary that a professor of law finds “understandable” what he himself describes as solving “the issue by force” that includes “illegal detaining” of Indians. The prevalence of such views and that your newspaper has chosen to print them makes the case for our advisory even more compelling,” the Indian embassy note said.
It added: “The professor from Yiwu thinks that “radical actions” are a solution to trade disputes. Others like us expect, perhaps optimistically, the rule of law.”
The report and the reaction come days after India issued a second advisory for its businessmen involved in trade in Yiwu. It followed the abduction two weeks ago of an Indian purchaser whose company had defaulted ….. He was freed and flew back to India after the Indian consulate in Shanghai and the local police arrested a suspect, a 30-year-old woman.
But Wu mentioned several other cases where Indians were involved in defaulting. “According to media reports in 2009, a Yiwu dealer sent a shipment of goods worth 6 million Yuan ($947, 400) to an Indian buyer, only to find out later that the buyer couldn't afford the deal and was unwilling to return the goods,” was one example given by Wu.
He added: “Based on these accounts, it seems obvious that the Indians brought these troubles on themselves. It is them, not the Yiwu business community, who should be held accountable for these disputes.”