Indian groups urge boycott of Chinese goods over stance on Pakistani militant

Toys are displayed inside a Chinese toy shop at a market in Kolkata, October 11, 2017. (Reuters)
Updated 14 March 2019
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Indian groups urge boycott of Chinese goods over stance on Pakistani militant

  • China is India’s second biggest trading partner
  • Chinese products — from mobile phones made by companies such as Xiaomi Inc. to toys — are ubiquitous in India and trade between the countries

NEW DELHI: An influential Hindu nationalist group and an Indian traders body called on Thursday for a boycott of Chinese goods, to slap Beijing for blocking a move to put a Pakistani militant leader on a UN terrorist list following a suicide attack last month.
Regarded by Pakistan as its most reliable friend, China has repeatedly thwarted efforts to implement UN sanctions against Masood Azhar, the founder of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), the group that claimed responsibility for the attack that killed 40 paramilitary police in Indian-controlled Kashmir.
The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), which represents 70 million traders, said it would burn Chinese goods on March 19 to “teach a lesson” to China.
“The time has come when China should suffer due to its proximity with Pakistan,” CAIT said in a statement. “The CAIT has launched a national campaign to boycott Chinese goods among the trading community of the country, calling the traders not to sell or buy Chinese goods.”
The United States, Britain and France asked the Security Council’s Islamic State and Al-Qaeda sanctions committee to subject the Jaish leader to an arms embargo, travel ban and asset freeze.
But China a placed a “technical hold” on the proposal, saying it needed more time to consider, using the same stalling tactic it has used in the past.
Mounting impatience with Beijing’s stance was evident on social media on Thursday as #BoycottChineseProducts was the second-highest trending hashtag on Twitter in India.
Similar campaigns in the past have proved ineffectual.
China is India’s second biggest trading partner. Chinese products — from mobile phones made by companies such as Xiaomi Inc. to toys — are ubiquitous in India and trade between the countries grew to nearly $90 billion in the year ending March 2018.
The leader of the Swadeshi Jagran Manch, the economic wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a Hindu nationalist group with close ties to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), also called for a boycott of Chinese goods.
He also wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi recommending that India hit Beijing with higher tariffs.
“Government of India needs to take immediate action to raise tariff duties on all Chinese imports,” Ashwani MaHajjan said in the letter, seen by Reuters.
“China, which is already under economic stress, thanks to trade war initiated by US and other trade partners of China, will definitely realize the implications of the unjust action of protecting terrorists.”
India’s trade ministry said in an email the country can’t take any unilateral punitive action against a fellow member of the World Trade Organization.
A senior government official, who refused to be named as he was not authorized to speak to media, said there has been a move to “restrict” Chinese imports but that India was not in a position to replace products such as electronics
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley warned against any hasty reaction.
“It’s a diplomatic issue, and India will take a decision after a careful thought,” Jaitley told CNN-News18. “We’re not a small player on the global stage, but foreign policy issues are tackled in a measured way, not in a knee-jerk manner.”
With just weeks to go before a general election, India’s main opposition Congress party said Modi’s attempts to improve ties with China were not yielding results.
“Weak Modi is scared of Xi. Not a word comes out of his mouth when China acts against India,” Congress President Rahul Gandhi said on Twitter, referring to Chinese President Xi Jinping.
China’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a faxed message seeking comment on the boycott calls.
Renu Kohli, an independent economist in New Delhi, doubted whether any boycott would hit critical mass.
“It’s going to fizzle out sooner or later when the consumer realizes that their pocket is being hit by costlier domestic products,” said Kohli.


Singapore luxury apartment sales surge to 11-year high

Updated 20 September 2019

Singapore luxury apartment sales surge to 11-year high

  • Sales of such apartments also exceeded the numbers racked up for each full year from 2011 to 2018, the consultants’ analysis of transaction data shows

SINGAPORE: Sales of Singapore apartments worth at least S$10 million ($7.3 million) have hit an 11-year high, fueled by increased demand from Chinese millionaires seeking safe-haven assets, say property consultants OrangeTee & Tie.

Investors have long viewed Singapore as an island of stability that attracts the super-rich from its less developed Southeast Asian neighbors, as well as multimillionaires from mainland China.

In the first eight months of 2019, 68 condominium units in the wealthy Asian city-state were sold for S$10 million and more, the highest tally since the corresponding period of 2008.

Sales of such apartments also exceeded the numbers racked up for each full year from 2011 to 2018, the consultants’ analysis of transaction data shows.

Some buyers may have sought an alternative to rival financial hub Hong Kong, hit by protests, while others may have shifted funds from China after its yuan currency was devalued in a trade war with the US, an OrangeTee expert said.

“This may explain why we have observed more foreign buyers, especially mainland Chinese, coming into Singapore lately,” said Christine Sun, its head of research and consultancy.

Mainland Chinese are the biggest group of foreign buyers of Singapore luxury homes.

In Singapore’s prime districts, Chinese citizens bought 76 apartments worth more than S$5 million from January to August, versus 75 purchases by Singaporeans, data until Sept. 19 show.

Expensive apartments in premium neighborhoods are mainly bought by foreigners, because at such high prices Singaporeans have the option to buy landed property, such as bungalows and mansions.

Singapore does not allow foreigners to buy landed homes, except for those on the resort island of Sentosa.

“We do see that even though the stamp duties have increased .... we are still seeing people putting big money on these apartments, predominantly it is more for stability than anything else,” said Boon Hoe Leong, chief operating officer of high-end realtor List Sotheby’s International Realty.

He was referring to measures Singapore adopted last year to cool its real estate market, such as hiking additional stamp duties for foreign buyers to 20 percent from 15 percent.

“They are parking their money here — they know that the Sing dollar won’t depreciate overnight,” he added.