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Asia Minute: India, China and a Growing Divide

AP Photo/Channi Anand
Activists of Jammu and Kashmir Dogra Front shout slogans and burn photographs of Chinese President Xi Jinping during a protest in Jammu, India, Wednesday, July 1, 2020.

It’s been a little more than two weeks since Indian and Chinese soldiers clashed violently near a disputed border in the Himalaya Mountains. Military officials have had three rounds of talks since then, but there are other signs of a declining relationship between these two regional giants.

The two most populous countries in the world are in a growing dispute — touching on everything from security to trade.

This week, India’s government banned nearly five dozen Chinese apps from TikTok — home to short viral videos to Alibaba, a giant of ecommerce. The New Delhi government said the apps were “stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data in an unauthorized manner.”

A spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry says the government in Beijing is “strongly concerned” about the ban. India is a growing destination for Chinese technology companies — and according to company figures, it’s become the biggest foreign market for TikTok.

The Times of India quotes an analysis showing nearly 40% of the apps in use in India are Chinese — nearly the same rate as those that have been domestically developed.

India is the biggest overseas market for Chinese smartphones. And according to the World Bank, China is India’s biggest supplier of foreign goods – complete with a trade imbalance approaching 60-billion dollars.

Despite some calls for a consumer boycott of Chinese goods, cutting those Chinese imports carries some complications for India. For example, Foreign Policy Magazine reports the imports include about two-thirds of the raw materials needed to produce one of India’s most valuable exports: generic pharmaceuticals.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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