Over an 11-course five-star dinner on Thursday, Karnataka chief minister BS Yeddyurappa invited businessmen in Beijing to invest in Bangalore, with the help of Chinese language presentations marketing the city as a global technology hub with improving infrastructure.
But many Chinese in the audience were streaming out even as one of the last courses — chicken biryani — was being served. It was evident that Chinese investors eyeing India are looking for direct answers to their business concerns that persist despite growing industry collaborations.
A Chinese professional stood up to bluntly ask the Bangalore team: Is there discrimination especially against Chinese companies in India?
Reports that telecom majors like Huawei are struggling to acquire big contracts due to India’s ‘security concerns’ have created a buzz in Beijing and the Chinese media. “We invest in India not only for the cheap and skilled labour but we also care for the local market,’’ Liu Zhaofeng, overseas market director of Chinese major Datang Telecom Technology & Industry Holdings, later told HT. “If the local market is closed to us, why should we go to India?’’
The officials quickly said the reports were ‘unsubstantiated’. “Huawei has never complained to us about discrimination,’’ replied India’s deputy chief of mission Jaideep Mazumdar.
Then a Chinese professional in the steel industry spoke up that obtaining even a one-month visa to India is becoming a ‘problem’.
Ambassador S Jaishankar replied that he had heard of the ‘visa issue’ since he moved to Beijing last month, and pointed out that applicants should apply for an employment visa and not a business visa, to work in India. “My understanding is that the speed of the employment visa can be hastened.”
Chinese data says the value of contractual projects of Chinese enterprises in India was worth 5.2 billion dollars from January to June this year. But the global recession has hit bilateral trade, which dipped by 32 per cent in the first six months of the year.