There’s been considerable chatter around the new HSK exam system that will be released this month. As India’s premium Mandarin language institute, Inchin Closer has decided to bring you the changes that will mark this new HSK exam system that will impact the future of thousands of sino-aspirants around the world.
Firstly, the HSK exam will now consist of 9 levels instead of the erstwhile 6. The entry barrier to Mandarin will also be raised considerably. Earlier, HSK 1 students only needed to learn 150 Mandarin words to pass the first level, now it is expected that HSK 1 students will need to master 500 Mandarin words. This means that for HSK 6 students who earlier knew roughtly 5,000 Chinese words, thats no longer the limit, in order to be a 100% HSK certified, you will now need to know close to 10,000 Mandarin words.
The third and more over arching change known is that the exam is positioned to be more practical and will be closer aligned to the CEFR (Central European Framework of Reference) system. This is a centralised, standardised, language system that defines how most European languages are learnt, taught, tested and perceived by employers.
On all visible fronts, Inchin Closer’s current syllabus is best positioned to follow the new HSK exam system. At Inchin Closer, we already teach more than 150 words at the Beginners level, we make sure our syllabus is based on the CEFR graded system of learning, is culturally accurate, teaches practical Mandarin which is commonly used on the streets of Shanghai and imparts a holistic understanding of Chinese by teaching all 4 skills – listening, speaking, reading and writing Mandarin. This ensures that we not only cover the HSK syllabus but also the HSKK curriculum. Of course, having native Chinese teachers, teach the language to our students is an added authentic bonus.
How will the changes impact you?
The 汉语水平考试 Hànyǔ Shuǐpíng Kǎoshì hasn’t been updated since 2010, and even then it was minimal adjustments that were made to the original 1992 structure. This is only the 2nd major overhaul made to the Chinese proficiency test since its origin.
The changes will impact those most at the initial levels of the language and those at the higher levels of the language. Initial levels since HSK 1 will now have more words to learn to pass the test, higher levels since now HSK 6 isn’t the finite level to achieve native status. It will now take a lot more to prove a foreigner can really speak Chinese.
The changes are however a boon for employers and university admission committees which will be better able to judge an applicants Chinese language level. The exam will give them a stronger gauge to understand how proficient someone is in Mandarin. According to information released by Hanban the authority administering the test, HSK 7 and above test takers will need to give only 1 scaled test, based on their performance on this test, they will be given HSK 7, HSK 8 or an HSK 9 certificate. Additionally for this penultimate test, the ability to translate will also be measured.
Going forward; Inchin Closer is prepared
As more information is released by China’s Ministry of Education and Hanban, Inchin Closer will constantly work on updating and revising our syllabus to ensure that it is in line with the new HSK exam standards. Just as our current syllabus is aligned with the existing HSK words, we will revise our curriculum, textbooks, materials and teaching techniques to reflect the new HSK exam. We will also update our internal tests for each level, to make sure they continue to be HSK compliant. Our native Chinese teachers will be trained in the requirements of the new HSK system and we will upgrade our teaching techniques to make sure all Inchin students can easily prepare for and pass the new HSK exams.
Number of words
Difference with old HSK
Lastly, don’t let these changes dampen your spirits, persevere in studying Chinese language, for knowing a language is more about understanding a country, her culture and people. It extends much beyond passing a language level and getting a certificate. Like we say at Inchin Closer, count your Chinese friends, not your language level!
Narrative arts and
storytelling traditions in India and China
~ By Charmaine Mirza
Once Upon A Time…
According to ancient tradition a powerful and wise
emperor, decided to conduct a test of empathy, selflessness and generosity. He
set off into a woodland disguised as a hungry old man. He came across four
friends in the forest: a monkey, an otter, a jackal and a rabbit. He begged
them for something to eat as he built a fire to keep himself warm.
The monkey ran off and grabbed some fruit off the trees
to bring back to the old man.
The otter dove into the river and caught a fat fish for
the old man to eat.
The jackal snuck off to a neighbouring farm and stole a
pot of milk curd and a lizard to provide the old man with sustenance.
But the rabbit did not know what to forage for as it only
ate grass. Yet it strongly believed that it should help the old man appease his
hunger. So in a moment of extreme sacrifice the rabbit threw itself upon the
fire, telling the old man that he could eat him.
The old man reveals himself to be a wise and powerful
emperor and prevents the rabbit from getting burnt. To honour his immense
self-sacrifice, he immortalised the long-eared creature and sent him to the
moon. That’s why when we look up at a full moon especially the Harvest Moon, we
can see the rabbit pounding away with a pestle to create the Elixir of
Immortality, under the benevolent eye of the Moon Goddess, who is the keeper of
In Indian tradition, the wise and powerful emperor is none
other than Lord Buddha.
In Chinese tradition, the wise and powerful emperor is the Jade
But whether you want to call it collective consciousness, or
whether you believe that there is a common thread to this narrative, the story
is the same.So where does it originate?
The Roots of A Collective Consciousness:
Centuries ago, wise men from across Asia made their way
across the Himalayas (a journey that could well be described to the moon and
back) chasing after the elusive rabbit in search of the Elixir of Life.
What they discovered was a fount of wisdom that perpetrated
itself in oral tradition. Many of these fables and folk tales were rooted in ancient
Hinduism (Panchatantra) and Buddhism (Jataka). It was the latter that found the
widest appeal and made its way across the Himalayan massif into corners of the
world as far-flung as Persia, Indonesia, Japan, and of course, China. They later
even spread as far as Europe.
Storytelling is etched into the DNA of human history. In
fact, after the Bible, it’s the Jataka that is the second most widely spread
narrative in the world — and the fabric of both is very similar.
Fables often draw their lessons from the natural world,
using animals to illustrate human traits and characteristics. They are a timeless method of
instilling values and morals in every generation of human history. Storytelling
is an intrinsic part of both Chinese and Indian culture.
India has always had a long tradition of Katha
(story). From the Joshis of Rajasthan to the Bauls of Bengal, to the Haridasu’s
of Andhra Pradesh – these minstrels wander blending spirituality with song to
sing for their supper. There’s a tongue-in-cheek pragmatism and worldliness in
these singalong stories, and the role of the jester in amid a royal court is
replicated by minstrels in everyday society.
China has an equally strong tradition of popular culture
storytelling called Pingshu. Similar to Indian minstrels, they provide a form
of live theatre that not only entertains, but also imparts wisdom and learning.
In an article in the Huffington Post, Yvonne Yan sheds more
light on Pinghsu, “Since the mid-Qing dynasty, Pingshu gradually became an
important recreational tool for people to communicate information, share
interests, and enjoy their glorious history. Traditional Pingshu artists
usually perform in teahouses or small theaters, where people can gather around
on a nice afternoon.”
In both India and China, storytelling is a profession. It may
take many years of learning and training before one becomes a full-fledged storyteller
in one’s own right. Besides tales of valour, story tellers in China and India,
passed on history, stories of local heroes and village romances, tales of
empathy, filial piety, nationalist pride, good morals and values.
It is a re-telling from this very vein, that Inchin Closer
aims to use story’s or interactive stories in their modern day avataar to help
Mandarin language students practice their Mandarin. Illustrating the deep
connect humans have with stories, the emotional bond that helps us to learn
from tales told, Inchin Closer plans to engage learners to take a path and by
choosing their way forward, decide how their individual story unfolds. For no
two individuals, read a story in the same way, therefore each user of the
Inchin app can play their story differently, learning new words along their
path, and discovering new endings for each twist or turn taken.
Stemming from everyday situations, of going out with friends
or buying products in China, the stories in the Inchin app, are practical, real
world and ingrained with Chinese culture. Created to measure up to different
kinds of learners, with varied interests, Mandarin language levels and experiences,
the app is a modern day version of stories that hope to bind the countries by a
sense of familiarity, better understanding and shared knowledge.
An exclusive Interview with Bivash Mukherjee; who re-discovered Tagore’s links with China.
A stroll below the under belly of Shanghai’s busy Yan’an Road one cool evening about twelve years ago led Bivash Mukherjee, the man behind Gurudev: a Journey to the East, a highly informative documentary on Tagore’s lifelong bond with China, to a delightful discovery that culturally connects China and India a century ago. In an exclusive interview with Inchin Closer, ten years ago, Mukherjee delves into the life, times and influence that Asia’s first Nobel Laureate had over Chinese society at the time.
Mukherjee’s discovery brought to light another close bond that India and China shared, that most even today know little about. We all hear about the tea and opium trades however, Tagore’s rich influence on Chinese society which continues until today, led past Indian President Pratibha Patil to inaugurate a bust of Rabindranath Tagore in Shanghai in 2010. Commemorating almost a century of influence that Indian literature, modern thoughts and a dream of a Pan-Asia that the Bengali Bard had on Chinese people.
Inchin Closer: Tagore is the most translated foreign poet after Shakespeare in China today. He continues to inspire modern Chinese. How did Tagore’s writings culturally affect Chinese society then and now?
Mukherjee: Tagore first arrived in China in the summer of 1924. That was an official trip following an invitation from Liang Qichao, a reformist and a Confucian scholar at that time, who headed the Beijing Lecture Association. But the visit also happened during one of the most turbulent times in China. The May Fourth Movement that began in 1919 was at its peak with regular debates on East vs. West; modernism against tradition. It was a conflict — violent at times — with students and intellectuals leading the way that to some extent shaped the history of modern China.
The ensuing clash of ideas and
cataclysm marked the beginning of the emergence of the Chinese Communist Party.
Tagore was perceived by good many
intellectuals as an opponent of modernism (read Westernization) and supporter
of traditional values and culture and ran into opposition during his trip. We
know now that was far from true.
Tagore was widely traveled man and
saw the best and worst of both the worlds. His Pan-Asian view incorporated the
best of the west, but the ethos was largely Asian. Not just India, China or
Japan but a united Asia, which he felt could stand up to the dictates of the dominant
Europeans of the time.
Tagore’s trip was the classic case
of, as a Chinese professor told me, being at the wrong place, at the wrong
time. That he is still read, discussed and admired, despite the hostility of
his trip, says volumes about how influential Tagore has been in modern China. I
was also told that his books made the rounds during the Cultural Revolution, offering
some semblance of hope during those troubled times.
Tagore’s arrival in China also gave
an impetus to the new wave poetry/writings that was in its infancy then. Everybody
needs an inspiration and Tagore’s visit provided just the spark. Xu Zhimo is
among the writers who are closely associated with Tagore. Then there is Xie
Bingxin as well. Her writings in fact covered an era – from the 1920s to the
Inchin Closer: Does Tagore continue to influence Chinese society and literature even today? What does the modern Chinese think of the Bengali Bard that wrote India’s national anthem?
Mukherjee: In the most recent times, I can think of Zhao Lihong, who is now the vice president of the Shanghai Writers Association. He has openly spoken about Tagore’s influence in his writings.
I hear now that a new generation
of translators is working to bring out his complete works in 28 volumes. While
his previous works have been translated from English and Hindi, this time they
are working from the original – in Bengali.
So, from 1915 or 1916 when he was
first translated in Chinese to the present 2010 and beyond – that’s quite a
span, isn’t it?
Besides books and articles, it is
heartening to see Tagore being quoted freely on Chinese blogs and internet
forums here. They are essentially the young crowd and much of the blogging has
to do with matters of the heart or those with a spiritual bent of mind. Many of
them also write/discuss on the controversy of his visit. I read one of the
blogs – again someone in the late twenties – who wrote that “it had to be a
foreigner telling us to preserve our culture against European dominance while
we fought each other…”
I think also much of the influence
has got to do with his Asian-ness. His love for all things natural, child-like,
spiritualism … they could easily identify with him. So, yes, he did held sway
over them and continues to…
Inchin Closer: The idea of a Pan-Asian culture is something that is seeing renaissance today, one where a collective Asia rises from the ashes of her past, kind of like a modern day economic phoenix. How did Tagore see it then and what parallels can we draw to modern times?
Mukherjee: The doctrine was simple: Asia for Asians. A pan-Asian mainland that was free of western influence. Tagore had declared that Asia must find its voice. It was based on a vague concept of universal humanity while championing the ideals of the east. While the idea was quick to catch on, it was fraught with divergent views. The common binding concept was to oppose western hegemony and build an Asian synergy. But Tagore with his Brahmo Samaj views, China with its Confucian traditions and Japan with its military might were least likely to find a common ground. It was an idealized conception that was doomed for failure.
Worse, who was to lead it at all? While Pan-Asianism had a
tinge of spiritual and religious spirit in India, Japan assumed it to be its
military might particularly after its victory over Russia in the Russo-Japanese
war. Also, Japan’s expansionist policies in Asia had brutalized China and Korea
and Tagore was clearly disenchanted by it.
But come to think of it, the Pan-Asian concept was probably
not entirely utopian. If the success stories of modern-day ASEAN, AFTA and
other trade blocks are to be seen, it has clearly worked to propagate the ideas
of regionalism. The idea was regional development and it seems to be working
Inchin Closer: What was the Crescent Moon Society and how did it influence China?
Mukherjee: It was the Cambridge-educated Xu Zhimo and his literary circle of friends who formed a casual dinner and discussion salon named after Tagore’s book of prose poems The Crescent Moon. Members generally paid five yuan a month that allowed them to eat, drink, read, meet, discuss or just play pool.
Xu penned some of his thoughts in
a poem which opens with the line, “There are times when our little courtyard
ripples with infinite tenderness.”
Xu lived quiet a colorful life. He
finished his early education at Peking University and traveled to the United
States for further studies. Finding the US “intolerable,” he moved to Cambridge
University in England in 1920, which is where he “fell in love” with English
romantic poetry of Keats and Shelley. It was also here in England that he
discovered Tagore for the first time and sought common grounds later on with
other Asian writers.
Xu returned to China in 1922 and
introduced the “new wave” modern poetry that fused western elements of romance
into classical Chinese poetry. Xu, who was the official translator for Tagore
during his trip to China, took quiet a bit of flak from contemporary thinkers
for his dominant theme of love, beauty, energy and his contempt for
Tagore stayed at Xu’s house twice
in Siming Village in Shanghai. That house no longer exists but there is a
plaque on the wall that makes special mention of Tagore and Xu and other
celebrities who once lived there.
His death at the young age of 36
in 1931 in a plane crash – he had printed accounts earlier of his love for
“Flying” — stumped the development of modern Chinese poetry.
Professor Tan Chung, who was
bought to Santiniketan by Tagore to establish the Cheena Bhavan, said that Xu’s
death “cut short a career of great poetic talent. If he had lived as long as
many of his contemporaries had lived, his role in the history of modern Chinese
literature would have been greater than what is known. So also: Tagore’s
influence on China’s new poetry would have been more pronounced than what is
In Xu Zhimo, Tan writes, there was a mini-version of Tagore. “Rich, talented, romantic, exposed to progressive ideas but not plunging into the political activities. Not unlike Tagore in his young days, Xu Zhimo had tender feelings for fellow-beings, was inclined towards the charm of nature, but knew how to make the best in material life. He was a potential Chinese Tagore being wiped out in his formative stage by ill fortune.”
This is a reprint of the interview Inchin Closer conducted with Bivash Mukherjee in 2010.
Resuming work safely post the Covid 19 lockdown. Issued in public interest by Inchin Closer
In order to help businesses systematically and safely get back work. Inchin Closer has compiled best practices from experienced economies to help Indian businesses resume work in a healthier environment. To read the entire report click here.
World leaders may frantically
close their borders, draw battle lines and build walls, but if there’s one
thing that the 21st century has taught us, it’s that there are no naka-bandis
when it comes to finance and technology.
This map shows Chinese investments
in a variety of sectors across different regions of India, and the different
stages of each investment.
TOP THREE SECTORS & REGIONS
The E-Commerce space in India has
caught China’s eye – and it’s investment wallet. E-commerce is also a tried and
tested game for many Chinese
investors who have already sized up the pitfalls from China’s e-commerce
A large percentage of Chinese
investment is in Indian e-commerce start-ups, with the big boys like Tencent
and Alibaba at the forefront.
The National Capital Region,
Greater Mumbai and Bangalore are the anchor hubs of Chinese financial
investment and technology deployment. Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Pune and Chennai
are not far behind, rapidly rising up the ranks.
The numbers speak for themselves: NCR
– 13; Bangalore – 11; Mumbai 4
FinTech start-ups is another area
of growth in India. The Chinese already have their finger on the pulse and are
well-versed in the various upsides and downsides of FinTech, from home-grown
avatars in China.
NCR – 7; BANGALORE – 6; MUMBAI
#3: MEDIA & ENTERTAINMENT
Indians are rarely at a loss for
entertainment. With mobile networks upping their bandwidth, the demand for
entertainment and media online is rising exponentially. The Chinese have
already tapped into this niche and it’s the third largest sector for Chinese investment
NCR – 6; BANGALORE – 6; MUMBAI –
WHAT AND WHERE ELSE?
Besides the big three sectors in
the big three metros, the Chinese have made further inroads in India.
Beyond Mumbai, western India is
certainly on their horizon.
One of the most significant
Chinese investments in India was Fosun’s buyout of Gland Pharma in Pune, a city
which also has Chinese investments in the automotive and logistics sector.
Ahmedabad has also emerged as a
significant hub of Chinese investment in a variety of industries ranging from
consumer goods to media, electronics to automobiles. Over Rs. 17000 crore has
already been invested in Gujarat by the Chinese. Great Wall Motors and SAIC, have
plans to manufacture both conventional as well as electric vehicles in Gujarat.
Chennai has 5 Chinese investments
and Hyderabad has 4, in a variety of sectors. Electronics, automobiles, capital
goods and aggregators seem to have drawn China’s attention in these cities.
TIER II CITIES:
Investments in electronics, a
sector in which the Chinese are well versed, are scattered in various cities across the country. Tier II
cities like Kanpur, Jaipur, Bharuch and Vijaywada have also received
investments from the Chinese in a variety of sectors ranging from education to
e-commerce, power and electronics.
It is a little surprising to see
that Calcutta only has one investment from China, which is in Capital Goods –
given it’s close proximity to the border with China and being an important
centre for the tea trade.
WHAT’S THE LOGIC?
According to Nazia Vasi, founder
of Inchin Closer: “Over the past few years, Chinese
investments in India have scaled faster than a ninja on the Great Wall.
Tencent, Alibaba and Didi have all made significant investments in India. The
investments have been made in industries that are akin to their own businesses
The Chinese made some
well-informed decisions. They started to study the Indian landscape over 8
years ago. They laid low, and did their research. Once they got their heads
wrapped around the Indian market they started to make significant capital
investments in India’s start-up ecosystem.
The Chinese were quick to catch on
that Indian start-ups are often strapped for Indian funds. Therefore they need
to look beyond India’s borders for funding. That’s where China steps in.
Indian consumer behaviour is very
similar to Chinese consumer behaviour of about 5 years ago. Having learned from
their own experiences in China, they could predict fairly accurately the
direction in which the Indian consumers would go.
For example, when Alibaba invested
in PayTM in 2018, the leadership already had a detailed understanding of
consumer behaviour from it’s launch of AliPay in China. Therefore when it made
it’s investment in PayTM it knew what it was getting into, and could drive
PayTM’s growth in a way that worked for them.
By investing in India, the Chinese
are consolidating a base of consumers which is only set to grow exponentially
in the next 20 years or so. From e-commerce to FinTech, logistics to telecom,
the Indian market offers a golden opportunity to the Chinese investor. They’re
gambling on the fact that with the right impetus, today’s start-up could be the
next TATA, Birla or Reliance for generations to come.
The combination of financial and
knowledge capital is a powerful one. New investments could also be a
double-advantage for Chinese companies that use their own technology prowess in
areas such as electric vehicles, which are poised for growth in India. AI,
Virtual Reality, and Robotics are all technologies of the future – and China
has already positioned itself for maximum advantage in this arena.
As the application of 5G technology grows amongst the Internet of Things (IoT) continuing on from our article on the 5G tug of war, between the US and China, we delve into the future of mobile technology and how key decisions taken will impact economies and the development of new technologies.
The Entity List seems to be having a retrograde impact in the Year of the Rat, as it has spurred Beijing to invest vast resources into indigenous Chinese chip manufacture. Even as Trump raises his Great Wall, both the Pentagon and the Treasury are frantically gesturing to lower it.
“US technology companies, especially chip designers, sell the great majority of their products in Asia. China’s chip design and manufacturing capacity is expanding rapidly with a blank check from Beijing, and US companies fear that Huawei and other Chinese companies will retaliate against US export controls with a price war for the high-end chips that power smartphones and servers. The Pentagon and Treasury objections to the proposed export controls indicate that the balance of power in the global chip industry has shifted towards China, according to the Asia Times.”
According to the Wall Street Journal, “The Pentagon is
concerned that if US companies can’t continue to ship to Huawei, they will lose
a key source of revenue – depriving them of money for research and development
needed to maintain a technological edge, the people said.”
We can’t help but note that south of the border, the USA’s
neighbours, seem ready to have embraced Huawei’s 5G rollout with open arms.
“Mexico is poised to welcome 5G technology, he said, adding
that several Latin American countries are already reporting progress in the
field with the help of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, which
“spearheads the development of this technology.”
The expert said 5G, which requires larger bandwidth than the 4G networks now in use, is currently in the experimental stage in Mexico, according to Xinhua.”
Semiconductor Blue Chip:
If the Pentagon and the US Treasury department are concerned
enough, we thought we should take a look into who Trump’s legislation is
INTEL, Micron Technologies, Broadcomm, Qualcomm, Texas
Instruments, and Nvidia are six of the top ten semiconductor manufacturing
companies in the world – and among some of the most valued companies in the
USA. The fact that the growth of the US top 5: Apple, Microsoft,
Alphabet, Amazon and Facebook are also dependent on 5G technology (where Huawei
is the global leader) is just another blip on the Trade(ar).
“According to Asia Times, in April 2018 the US banned chip exports to the Chinese handset manufacturer ZTE in retaliation for violation of Iran sanctions, shutting ZTE down until President Trump negotiated a massive fine in return for resumption of deliveries. Only four months later, in August 2018, Huawei announced its Kirin chipset for smartphones, claiming better performance than Qualcomm’s market-leading product. In December 2019 Huawei began shipping smartphones with no US components. It already had shipped 5G base stations in September 2019 with zero US components.”
(Cultural Aside: In Mandarin, a “Kirin” is a mythical hooved
creature of fantasy said to appear with the arrival of a sage).
Perhaps the Chinese see far-reaching wisdom in investing in
the manufacture of their own semiconductor chips, in their future quest for
global tech dominance. In an ironic twist of fate, the Chinese have invited the
Taiwanese at a fabulous cost to come to mainland China and set up entire chip
But for the time being Trump’s sanctions might just be
“The Chinese company uses chip design technology from Britain’s ARM, owned by Japan’s Softbank. In October, ARM announced that its exports to Huawei do not violate US content rules said Asia Times.”
Which just goes to prove that technology has no borders. Maybe
it’s time to put away your passport and just let your chip flex it’s muscle.
Riding high on the bubbly (made in England, of course) effervescence
of Brexit, BoJo’s pulled his latest “Trump” card out of his rumpled Old Etonian
suit and has done what England does best – i.e. divide and rule in the latest
tech stand off between Washington and Beijing.
“The United States has backed off from earlier threats to
abandon a trade deal with Great Britain if Boris Johnson’s government allowed
Huawei to build part of its 5G network,” The Daily Telegraph reported on
January 25, 2020. (We thought it was an amusing coincidence that 25 January
2020 marks the start of the Year of the Metal Rat. The Rat being the first sign
of the 12 animal cycle in Chinese Astrology, is considered a harbinger of new
Flummoxed by the flexing of all this geopolitical muscle
over technology? Inchin Closer decodes the conflict.
What IS the Tech War All About?
While Huawei is being made the poster child for several
countries’ data security concerns, it’s not the only company to be placed on
Trump’s Entity List, as a part of the US trade sanctions on China.
Several countries deem Huawei a “High Risk” vendor. One
wonders whether this is purely because of national security concerns or whether
it’s because they fear that Huawei’s lean, mean cutting edge tech machines will
eclipse their own obese and flagging IT sectors.
“Britain’s spy agencies have long argued that any risks from using Huawei can be contained, and that US calls for a total ban are disproportionate. The company has been supplying equipment in the UK since 2003, and is already subject to regular review by an arm of the GCHQ intelligence agency,” reported the Guardian
But security concerns apart, perhaps England’s green light
for Huawei is a glaring red flag for Trump’s bull in a china shop approach to
global economics as it cedes valuable English tech turf to the Chinese. So he
did what he does best – and imposed trade sanctions on Chinese
telecommunications majors – including Huawei, among others.
“The Trump administration placed Huawei on a trade blacklist in May, effectively barring the Chinese telecommunications equipment maker from buying US components and technology without government approval.” – according to TechNode.
Why does it matter? Primarily because several Chinese
telecom companies buy their semiconductor chips from the USA. In fact, the
Chinese and Taiwanese manufacturers have been the biggest buyer of US made
semiconductor chips for several electronic devices – till now.
According to TechNode:
“Ongoing trade tensions and a technology cold war between
the US and China may spur a “de-Americanization” of global supply chains,
according to a report by global trade nonprofit Hinrich Foundation. (India –
Why it matters: US export restrictions on major Chinese tech
companies such as Huawei will force global semiconductor companies to source
non-American parts, causing a reconfiguration of supply chains to meet
thresholds set by the US government, according to the report.
To ship to companies on the US commerce
department’s Entity List, suppliers around the world must ensure their products
contain less than 10% of US technology if they are made in the US and 25% for
non-US made products.
is currently the largest importer of integrated circuits in the world with $300
billion worth of microchip technology being imported to the country in 2018,
said the report.”
~ This article is the first part of a two part series on the 5G tug of war between China and the United States of America. Read part 2, to know where we are headed.
China will have to thaw the barriers to Indian imports with the
looming trade deficit a critical element to tackle before they can hit a
India’s trade relations with China date back
to the 2nd century and while cotton still remains a commodity of large
export to China, the list of exports has not managed to extend steadily to suit
the world’s second-largest economy’s 21st century needs. This has
resulted in a growing trade deficit for the Indian economy, largely dependent
on China for electronic, electric, telecom and pharmaceutical goods. India’s
primary exports to its neighbour comprise intermediate commodities and raw
materials including seafood, vegetable fats, animal fodder, iron ore and
petroleum oils that have galvanised Chinese production and industry.
The bilateral trade deficit between both
countries has risen to US$53.6 billion this year with India’s structural
dependency on manufactured goods from China overpowering the export volume
steadily. New Delhi has consistently blamed the high tariffs levied on certain
sectors in China in the recent past. Entry limitations to farm and meat products to Chinese
markets and restrictions to human resource into China have been cited as major
factors leading to the deficit.
With China’s economy currently five times
that of India, both countries amount to 20% of the world’s GDP taking their
massive population in to account. Despite bearing the biggest trade deficit
India has with any country, Sino-Indian trade has steadily grown in the past
two decades to reach US$87.1 this year. The target of US$100 billion therefore
does not look too ambitious given the current momentum and greater scope for
Indian goods like pharmaceuticals, agricultural products and entertainment that
could decrease the gap in trade.
With the serious intention of putting in to
action remedial measures to overcome the deficit, Indian Prime Minister
Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping announced the setting up of a
new committee led by Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Chinese
Vice-Premier Hu Chunhua to fix the imbalance in trade while promoting
investment and services. This declaration came about at the 11th
BRICS summit held in Brasilia after a joint agreement at the informal summit
between Modi and Xi in Mammallapuram on October 11-12. In the wake of the
debilitating US-China trade war, China is willing to go the extra mile to
consolidate its relations with an alternate and promising market like India,
even offering to give Indian drug manufacturers and IT services more room in
However, in a twist to the tale, India’s withdrawal from the Regional Comprehensive Partnership (RCEP) deal, to check the rampant flooding of Chinese goods in to the Indian market is being foreseen as a dampener to its trading ties with the other 15 RCEP member countries including China, Australia and Japan. With a view to safeguarding its domestic manufacture and economy, India is looking to boosting exports to China to address the trade deficit before it can ink a deal like RCEP.
Other issues that are worth negotiation are the need for an ‘auto-trigger’ to limit import surges while checking the entry of Chinese goods via a third party. India is set to become an economic equal to China by year 2050 and holds immense potential for bilateral trade with its manufacturing potential, attractive startup ecosystem for investors and a vast consumer market for internet companies. Modi would be looking to bolster India’s economy that has seen a six-year slump of 5% by ensuring domestic trade, agriculture and manufacture flourish while employment figures rise. India’s willingness towards free trade now rests on China’s compliance to easing tariffs on imports to India and access in to its service industries.
A brief glimpse at how electric
vehicles mobility is charging the future of India and China’s road
China has bucked the
trend by scrapping subsidies on purchases of electric vehicles in the world’s
largest EV market at a time when the world is investing in electric vehicles
and suffering a slowdown in the auto industry. China’s sales of new-energy cars, which include plug-in hybrids, fell 28% until
June 2019 year on year.
country has had a robust history of manufacturing her own electric vehicles so
far. As per this Bloomberg chart, five of the top 10 electric vehicle
manufacturers by revenue are Chinese.
In one of the largest
moves that knocked the EV industry to its feet, Beijing decided to focus on improving infrastructure, with an active
investment of $60 billion in to its electric vehicle industry such as the
network of charging stations and improving the performance of car batteries-
ingredient that has galvanised China’s rise in the EV mobility sector. This has
fuelled its fleet of electric buses and two-wheelers, accounting for 99% of the
While the slump is most expected to hit personal car sales, China is keen to
look at the big picture focusing on taxi or ride-hailing companies and
a bid to revise its EV policy to counter environmental pollution, increasing
urbanisation and fossil fuel dependence, India surprisingly has been doing the
same, without making the mistake of initially grossly subsiding sales of
individual electric vehicles. Electric vehicle sales account for barely 0.1%
sales in India. To accelerate quick and high volume growth of sustainable electric
vehicles under its Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles
Scheme (FAME) Scheme, India
plans to invest in electrifying commercial vehicles like delivery business-run
two-wheelers, commuter-driving three-wheelers along with rental services like
Ola and Uber.
Beijing still seems supportive of the EV industry. The country wants one in
four new cars sold by 2025 to be electric, according to a draft 15-year
development plan released this week. That is an even higher target than in the
previous road map, released two years ago, and could be hard to achieve.
Currently, EVs only make up roughly 5% of the whole market.
China seems to be at the
helm of this vehicular shift. The
country sold 1.1 million cars last year alone, attracting intense competition
among automobile giants like Volkswagen and Tesla who are vying for a lion
share of the pie.
The International Energy
Agency estimates China to account for 57% of electric car sales domestically by
year 2030, and is said to already amount to 60% of the 2.1 million plug-in car
sales across the world.
The world is gradually
sliding away from oil and firing up the electric vehicle segment as nations
move away from an oil dependancy and towards more environmentally friendly
modes of transportation.
Dubai, the artificial
city that made its fortune on oil is looking to reinvent itself as a non-oil
economy. The global auto market is shrinking with the peak being in 2017 at 86
million units sold vs 76 million in 2019.
While China has the
infrastructural muscle to power its own electric vehicle business, India needs
to act upon its renewed zeal to amp up electric vehicle manufacture and sales,
boosted by the new Budget incentives and income tax exemptions in the sector.
Both India and China have set laudable targets for
mass EV adoption in the near future. What remains to be seen is whether
consumers will comply to make the big switch.
Move over, Matahari. Double agents are passé. Today’s world
is all about multi-tasking.
The Silk and Spice crossroads of India, Sri Lanka, Maldives,
Myanmar, Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet, China, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia and Central
Asia have long been a geopolitical chessboard. But the highest traded commodity
isn’t silk or cinnamon – it’s espionage.
While the caravanserais of yesteryear echoed with many
whispered secrets – today’s secrets bouncing off the chatrooms on WeChat or whatsapp.
That think-tank seminar might not be a not so routine meeting of minds. Sweet
nothings whispered into your ear…or your inbox, might just be a coded message!
Sounds amazing? Inchin Closer decides to press the pause
button and take a walk in the footsteps of a “Spy Who Came In Out of the Tropics”
in South Asia.
Chinese Casanova: The Honeytrap Technique
Who said romance is dead? The wink of an eye, that je ne
sais quoi, or in today’s world, even a little naughty sexting may have more than one innuendo. That charming
young woman who found you “oh so interesting!” Or that debonair young man who
swept you off your feet – may not only be pumping you for information, but even
trying to recruit you!
Huawei Hacker: The Mobile Mafia
Huawei and Xiaomi have recently made headlines for being
banned by several countries. India took a very cautious stance and Huawei in
particular was placed under a strict security radar. Is that because they pose
a massive threat to western mobile phone manufacturers… or is it because their
software is designed to spy? On the other hand, Indian and Chinese investors
continue to park their funds in each countries’ mobile technology and FinTech
platforms, but the trade-offs might be in more than just in the financial
Thousand Grains: The Jigsaw Puzzle
The Chinese are known for their “thousand grains of rice”
technique – a mind boggling piecing together of seemingly inconsequential
information that has been gleaned off a vast and global network of sources. In
itself, each kernel of intelligence is meaningless, but when placed in context
with one another, they take on new meaning. In India, this approach has been
less successful as the Chinese expat diaspora is much smaller.
Partners in Crime: Pakistan Pals
One of the biggest drawbacks for Chinese spying on India is
that they don’t talk the talk or have the look. So they outsource – and
Pakistan has become their spy back office, thanks to the similarity of features
and linguistic proficiencies.
Likewise, the Chinese have made inroads with insurgent
groups in the north east of India.
“In or before 2009, the Naga group was asked by the Chinese
to give information on the Dalai Lama’s group in India and the facilities of
the Indian army in what India calls its Arunachal Pradesh state and China
claims as South Tibet,” as in South
China Morning Post
RAW Deal: Sri Lanka Strategy
There’s no doubt to anyone that China has made deep
historic, economic, trade and political roots in the Emerald Isle. A fact that
makes both India and Japan less enchanted and more edgy. There is a segment of those
who believe that India’s RAW was a covert stooge in recent Sri Lankan politics
that backed the anti-Chinese faction. There’s less doubt that China’s MSS
supports miscreants and insurgents on Indian soil. The recent open support that
China showed in favour of a known terrorist at the UN Security Council raised
India’s eyebrows and it’s ire.
Dalai Lama Decoys: The Tibetan Turncoat
Thanks to their refugee status, their physical appearance
and ability to negotiate the culture and language, Tibetans are often the
target of both countries. In some cases, they have been found to play the game
for both sides of the border, with the quasi backing of a “supporting” nation.
“Pema Tsering was arrested in 2013 in Dharamsala, the Dalai
Lama’s base in India. He was an ineffective agent. Tsering had been jailed
while serving in the Chinese armed forces and was released by the Chinese when
he agreed to spy on the Dalai Lama’s group, but he was then recruited and paid
by the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), India’s main intelligence agency,” as
reported in the SCMP.
China has a vast guanxi of spies across the world,
but some pundits believe it is interested in corporate espionage that fills
it’s companies’ coffers.
“Much of the intelligence obtained by Chinese spying hits
the pockets of foreign companies rather than directly
helping China’s defence strategy…” see SCMP.
Spy support; helping
us to INCH Closer
Ironically, several people in the know believe that covert
espionage would actually help keep peace. There is a gaping hole in the lack of
cultural exchange and understanding between two neighbours of such size and legacy.
“Given that the two countries do not have the cultural or political machinery in place to understand each other, espionage and intelligence gathering is vital to ensure that miscalculations do not take place. This has been apparent over the last few years in stand-offs in the Himalaya, as well as top-level suspicions on each side about a variety of subjects including terrorism, covert operations in Sri Lanka and Burma, and the two countries’ nuclear weapons programs,” says the Defense and Security Analysis
Real Politik: Hard Core Propaganda vs. Crude Pragmatism
However, the fact of the matter is that both countries have
come to the reluctant understanding that it may be better to collaborate than
compete. India is leaner and meaner – when it comes to deploying it’s
resources, Pakistan takes priority. Covert activities are receiving less muscle
power from the government than in previous decades.
China has several other entities closer to home where it
needs to play Big Brother and prioritizes it’s political focus on Hong Kong,
Taiwan, Japan and the USA, than India.
“China prefers the glamor of facing up to its Pacific and
other maritime rivals such as the US and Japan. India, for its part, does talk
a great deal about the China threat, but its resources and expertise are
wrapped up in controlling its security threat from Pakistan and the Islamic
world. When China and India do try to spy on each other, it is often without
the benefit of a long-term focus or understanding.”
But global espionage circles aren’t all that disparate and
there’s often an overlap of technique and even personnel (the recent case of
David Headley as a double agent for the DEA and ISI is an excellent example). RAW
has recently started recruiting civilians to add to its ranks just like the CIA
and MI6, while the MSS still tends to cultivate it’s spies from special schools.
“The two countries are not friends. They have the largest territorial dispute in the world on their hands, covering an area the size of North Korea, and they have large armies facing each other along 4000 kilometers of frontier. But they also lay claim to the world’s two oldest and richest civilizations, with a rich history of exchange, and now with a combined population of 2.6 billion people and more than a quarter of the world’s economic output. If they cooperated, they could solve many of the world’s problems,” continues the Defense and Security Analysis Journal.
could be the mantra for Diwali or Chinese New Year.
~ By Kavita Ogale
Although they fall more than 6 months apart from each other, the Hindu New Year or Diwali celebrations bear striking resemblance to Chinese New year festivities.
As agricultural societies, both India and China, perform similar rituals to usher in their new years. A family gathering, spiced with good food, blessings for the new year garnished with new clothes, a clean house and presents for kids, all mixed in with a fiery topping of fireworks to ward off evil and lots of joy and laughter, marks the perfect recipe for both nations to start another agricultural cycle.
While the reasons behind celebrating both Chinese New Year and Diwali
are different, both countries have been following the same practices for many
The festivities commence with an elaborate house-cleaning regime which
is in keeping with the idea of ‘doing away with the old, and bringing in the
new’. This is followed by decorating the house with lights, lanterns and lucky
words cut out on craft paper to ward off evil, ushering good vibes, long life,
peace and prosperity.
The main theme for all this cleaning and decorating is to have the
entire extended family together under one roof. Both Diwali and Chinese New
Year, see families converging from far and wide, with generations
of one family often sharing the table for a ceremonial dinner occasion.
Children are pampered with gifts in India and red envelopes stuffed with
lucky money in China to bless them with luck, good health and progress.
Like in India, most Chinese
families stay up late to watch a traditional play, performances of song and
dance followed by a colourful display of fireworks to ward off evil before the
onset of the new year.
are these celebrations, that economic forecasts are made based on consumer
spend during Diwali and Chinese New Year. Sales and discounts lure consumers
into buying elaborately decorated gift hampers for family and friends.
Purchasing power prior to New Year celebrations therefore become the weather
wane pointing towards a bump or slump in the domestic economy for that year.
India and China in conclusion are not only similar when it comes to
traditional ways of celebrating Diwali and Chinese New Year but also bear
testimony to the fact that when it comes to contemporary aspects like
purchasing behaviour during festivities, consumers in both countries are not
unlike each other.
Three days after Chinese president Xi Jinping will meet Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, he will fly to the temple town of Mamallapuram, near Chennai to meet Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday.
The two are scheduled to celebrate 70 years of diplomatic
ties between the nations next year marking a momentous growth story of economic
opening up, development, political discourse and growth for both nations.
However, the meeting comes under a dark cloud – the cusp of
border tensions in the north of India, southwest China, a slowing economy in
both countries and rising social unrests.
Earlier in August, China and Pakistan held their largest yet
air force exercise in China’s Gansu province, the Shaheen-VIII. Official Chinese
military media reported the exercise and specially highlighted that the
People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) had for the first time sent its
fourth generation J-16 fighter to help train the Pakistan Air Force take on the
Rafale fighter aircraft being acquired by India.
In response, the Indian Army has recently started her own
training at 14,000 ft in Arunachal Pradesh just 100 km from the forward areas along the Line of Actual Control. The
expercise, will trial a new technique of offensive, testing the capabilities of
the newly conceived Integrated Battle Groups (IBGs).
The IBGs are a revised technique of combat wherein the army will
not function in separate wings but will bring together all fighting
capabilities like infantry, artillery, air defence under one command at the
Corp level formations of the Army.
The exercises which are being carried out in phases are scheduled to complete by October 25th.
Sensing a threat so close to the border, China had kept President Xi’s
visit in suspense until the last minute.
On the economic front both China and India are struggling –
China under the brunt of her trade war with the US and India under rising
inflation, mounting bad debts and an economy in recession on the eve of its
Chinese companies are in distress, due to the trade war –
having laid off employees and waking up to the realization that China is still
very dependant on the US for high-tech. She needs an ally in India’s 1.3
billion consumers, but more worrisome is that Chinese President Xi Jinping’s
goal of achieving the ‘China Dream’ by 2021 and ‘Made in China-2025’ within the
time-limits declared at the XIXth Party Congress now appear difficult.
On the other hand, India’s Prime Minister has just come off
a thumping publicity campaign in the United States, where he stood on the same
stage as US President Trump and their wowed their allegiance to each other.
Lastly, on the social front, tensions against China are also
rising in the south from Hong Kong even while China’s South China disputes
haven’t abated. India is also upset over draconian rules being recently passed
without a public consensus, rising inflation and unemployment.
On the whole, the informal talks the two leaders will share
on the sandy shores of India’s East coast, will lay the foundation for
hopefully better and stronger ties between the two neighbours. While Chinese
State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi has not yet visited India as is
protocol before a summit, the formula is expected to follow that of the Wuhan
Summit held between our leaders last year. Prime Minister Modi and President Xi
will lay the ground work, carve out the larger picture for the nations;
ministers of both nations will subsequently visit each others countries to work
out the modalities and implement plans made during these informal discussions.
How India and China are gearing up for the only war that counts
recently held United Nations Climate Action Summit 2019 brought 200 world
leaders together on a common stage, urging them to curb their greenhouse gas
emissions, reduce their carbon footprint and cut down on the unchecked use of
fossil fuels. Building tremendous pressure towards this cause was the worldwide
climate strike held between September 20 and 27 that witnessed 7.6 million
people being mobilised to generate a global emergency against this manmade
disaster. As the largest consumers of
coal, India, China and the US have an enormous responsibility to address the
climate crisis and exemplify best practices to continue growing their economies
without furthering the decline of natural resources.
Together India and China, the world’s third largest and largest emitters respectively have called upon climate finance amounting to $100 billion per year by 2020 from richer countries to support their move towards emission reduction, green initiatives, advanced technology and a sustainable renewable energy plan.
Rising temperatures, frequent droughts, flash floods, receding coastlines and food scarcity are just some of the realities that stare us in the face, as per a scientific report by the United Nations in as close as the next two decades. While commitments made in the 2015 Paris Agreement are still to be inked or implemented, temperatures are expected to peak at over 3 degrees more than existing levels even if 200 nations rise up to the challenge of curbing carbon emission and meet their nationally determined contributions (NDCs).
Prime Minister Narendra
Modi at the UN General Assembly continued to show a steadfast resolution to
supporting the fight against global warming as evident in his proposed
Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI), that seeks to unite UN
bodies, the finance and private sector to strengthen infrastructure against
potential climatic catastrophes. The International Solar Alliance (ISA) allies
nations between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn to harness solar power while
reducing costs borne to fund it. Part of the agreement is to invest a trillion
dollars to get solar energy installations up and running by 2030. India is to
also move towards a goal of 450-gigawatt (GW) renewable energy.
As Xi Jinping’s government leads the People’s
Republic of China into its 70th year, the second largest economy in
the world has significantly alleviated its carbon footprint through economic
restructuring, reduction in energy consumption through coal from 74% in 2006 to
58% in 2018, rapid urbanisation, emphasis on energy efficiency and adoption of
electric vehicles. Spearheading the need for speed when it comes to reforming
its approach to climate change, it has passed over a hundred policies to
promote renewable energy like vast wind and solar power, sourcing non-fossil
fuels and curbing air pollution. Its biggest challenges now remain restricting carbon dioxide emissions,
finding alternatives to emission in other countries through coal exports and
aligning its environmental targets with the local and industrial governments.
While the writing is on the wall as far as acting
on their pledges is concerned, Chinese Premier Xi Jinping will have plenty to
discuss when he meets his Indian counterpart Modi in India at the second
informal Modi-Xi summit after Wuhan from October 11-13. Their joint stance and
determination to check the ecological degeneration of the planet will set the
tone for the UN COP25 conference in Santiago, Chile in December.
Prologue: Geopolitics in South Asia just took a twist – but it’s hardly a new one, is
it? Revoking the status of Article 370 and “regularizing” the status of Kashmir
is like a brutal post-independence hangover that won’t be shaken off, no matter
how many placebos it’s fed. Two generations later, how many people even know
how or why Article
370 came about?
It’s important to understand
the entire area under contention first,
India and Pakistan aren’t the only actors vying for control in Jammu &Kashmir.
In reality, the region is split among India, which holds 45%, Pakistan which controls 35%, and China
which occupies 20%.
China has built the CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor)
highway through the Aksai Chin plateau in the northernmost reaches of Kashmir
and Ladakh. India has been protesting for years but dithered to take
Recently, the stakes just got a lot higher now that the CPEC
has become a part of China’s New Silk Road for trade. India maintains a
stand-offish stance and shuns participating in the New Silk Road, but the fact
that it’s hemmed in by it’s own thorny offspring – Pakistan on the one side and
Bangladesh on the other – is becoming painful to ignore.
The Modi Muscle:
Fast forward to the present. During Narendra Modi’s first
prime ministerial run four years ago, Article 370 was a campaign major
platform. He guaranteed to assimilate Kashmir and abolish Article 370. But it
didn’t happen during his first term. Come the second term in 2019 and his party
wins a thumping majority. His erstwhile campaign manager is now Home Minister,
and the time has come to deliver on that promise.
Does enforcing Article 370 really protect India’s (dubious)
right over Kashmir? Or will it actually result in India getting cornered into
becoming a reluctant partner in China’s New Silk Road?
In order to understand the geopolitics in the Kashmir Valley,
it is vital to understand the realpolitik of the Instrument of Accession to the
Republic of India, and the infamous Mountbatten manoeuvre, in context with the
creation of Pakistan (which didn’t exist at that time) and the shadow
politics and economics of British
imperialism in China that preceded that time.
The Sino-Indo Border Conflict:
When a ginned-up general during the British Raj at a Shimla
retreat drew a wavy line across a map of South Asia and declared that on one
side of it lay China and the other India, he unwittingly created what came to
be known as the McMahon
Line, an irrevocable boundary. The line wavered across the Trans-Himalayan
region, all the way over to the Eastern Himalayas. An arbitrary boundary, with
little regard for the people of the region or their ethnic roots, the division
became a bone of contention between both countries.
The Mountbatten Manoeuver:
Kashmir’s accession to India was a chequerboard of political
pawns. Facing a massive revolt after he oppressively annexed the independent
state of Poonch, Hari Singh, the Maharaja of Kashmir was at his wit’s end. He
sought to flee and signed away Kashmir on a “temporary” basis to garner the
protection of Nehru (a fellow Kashmiri) and Mountbatten. Mountbatten
double-crossed the people of Poonch who had fought for the British Allies in
World War II and British troops subdued the rebellion to saving Singh’s skin.
In return, Kashmir “acceded” to join the Indian constitution.
In 1947, Pakistan made it’s bloody debut on the global
stage. An irrevocable gash between the newly carved out federation of India and
the newly born country of West and East Pakistan begins – one that has yet to
heal. What is East Pakistan? The erstwhile state of East Bengal that was the
original Guinea-pig for Britain’s Divide & Rule Policy.
Seventy years down the line:
While Delhi still struggles to lend a hand to it’s far flung
territories in the north and north east, and cracks the whip from time to time
to reign in insurgency, Beijing is happy to hold out the gilded carrot in the
form of aid, infrastructure and security – but
there’s no such thing as a free Chinese dim sum – there’s a payback price tag
attached, as both Bangladesh and Pakistan have already discovered.
India and China played an uneasy game of chess as multiple
administrations struggle with balancing out concerns over border security with
the need for China’s investment in India’s growing and youthful population. In
the meanwhile, China has turned the other cheek and beguiled Pakistan to take
it under it’s wing. China is the latest ally for the Pakistani state – even
when it’s knowingly harbouring terrorists and renegades within its nuclear
Something needs to give. India needs to take a stand and
iron out the Kashmir issue. It’s already blown up in her face – multiple times.
Staking it’s claim and voicing it’s desire to amalgamate Kashmir wholly into
the Indian republic is a peremptory step, warning it’s neighbours to back off
it’s borders. It also flexes it’s muscle with Pakistan who covertly backs
jihadi-style terrorism in the valley. It renders itself stronger in the face of
a growing security threat from China and is literally a stepping stone towards
a tougher stance.
But while Beijing and Delhi may bicker, the question that
remains unanswered is “what do the Kashmiris want?” Perhaps its time we
listened to the voices that are echoing from the valley.
Supersonic internet speeds, digital prowess that can spur industries
including transport, utilities and renewables, benefits
to the health and education sector, a revolution in Artificial Intelligence
(AI), Internet of Things (IoT), communications, security, finance, as well as
agriculture – there is very little
that goes against the impending 5G rollout in India.
That it could be driven by China’s telecom giant Huawei, is the only
ominous cloud that hangs over India’s 5G dreams.
future that is inevitably geared towards the rapid development of smart cities,
the deployment of a massive 5G network is in line with PM Narendra Modi’s
tech-empowered India. Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone
Idea stand poised to tackle the fiscal deficit amid high-priced spectrum and a
heated price bracket, even as the proposed three-month trial, set for this month
to test a 5G spectrum in India is fast gaining momentum.
insight into the rollout of 5G services in India by the Department of
Telecommunications in 2017 reveals an estimated upturn worth over US$1 trillion by 2035.
a decision on the inclusion of Huawei pending, Nokia, Ericsson and Samsung are
the selected equipment vendors who will lend crucial support in India’s bid to
keep up with the global move towards the fifth generation of cellular network
and digital advancement.
in China is set to do for the 5G telecom market what AT&T and Verizon in
the US did for the world with the launch of the 4G wave almost a decade ago.
576 million smartphone users will employ 5G services by 2025, comprising around
40% of the world’s such connections.
will enjoy the first mover advantage in deploying the world’s first 5G
widespread network as early as next year pegged on government support and a
capital investment of US$180 billion towards the cause. This will mean low
latency and a 10-15% cheaper cost of commercial adoption of 5G-enabled
handsets, applications and services all over the world.
India, Keeping China’s largest standalone 5G-enabling network out of the mix is
being seen as a bigger risk than the perceived intelligence leak it seems to
the US softening its disengagement with Huawei after the recent G20 Summit in
Japan and countries like the UK still considering the offer, India is under
immense pressure to ease its opposition on the second largest smartphone
manufacturer in the world, after Samsung.
presence in India is a long-established one of nearly two decades with the
country housing the firm’s largest R&D centre overseas, set up in Bengaluru
in 1999 that employs more than 5000 engineers. The Chinese brand has gained
access from the Department of Telecom (DOT) to execute 5G trials in India last
India being one of the fastest growing telecom markets in the world today,
Huawei will try everything to gain a foothold in the country’s 5G ecosystem.
New Delhi’s resistance meanwhile, is linked to its previous history of hacking
Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL) which led to restricted usage of telecom
equipment in areas around the country’s borders in 2009, similar hacking was detected
in the state-owned telecom in 2014 as well. Huawei has denied these
allegations, assuring full co-operation with the Indian government on all
network security compliance issues.
must independently assess the impact of the Chinese Communist Party’s control
over businesses through intelligence agencies and laws before it signs the
dotted line. Better cyber security surveillance policies and standards to
protect data and networks is imperative and Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar
Prasad should be looking to close the gaps before he takes an informed decision.
Compete, collaborate and an occasional bout of conflict to
spice things up – that sums up the Indo-China relationship rather nicely. But
is India’s “Look East” policy taking it to borders beyond China? Apparently so
– and it looks like Taiwan and Japan are on it’s immediate radar.
Taiwan’s New South Policy (NSP) has it actively looking at
south and south East Asian trade partners that take it beyond the sphere of Chinese
influence. India’s economic crescendo has grabbed it’s attention and Taiwanese
investment has already made recent landfall on India’s shores.
Japanese investment in India is vintage – but is the growing
political partnership between India and Japan old wine in a new bottle?
One of the most aggressive Japanese VCs in India is SoftBank
which has made several major investments in the Indian technology sector such
as Ola and Flipkart. ReBright Partners, Dentsu Ventures and Mistletoe are just
a handful of the other Japanese investors eyeing the Indian startup-scape.
To counter the Chinese influx in Hambantota on Sri Lanka’s
south coast, India and Japan have joined hands to help Sri Lanka construct and
finance the new Eastern Container Terminal in Colombo. “The news that India has
teamed up with another of Asia’s powerhouse economies to offer Sri Lanka a deal
regarding another port – a deal that (unlike Hambantota) pointedly leaves
overall control in Sri Lankan hands – has inevitably given rise to speculation
that India and Japan are motivated by a desire to push back against Chinese
influence, and perhaps even to take on Chinese President Xi Jinping’s signature
regional infrastructure initiative the Belt and Road Initiative”, according to
Taiwan is looking at a 20 percent year on year increase in
bilateral trade. Walter Yeh, President & CEO, TAITRA said that there is big
scope for trade to expand between India and Taiwan. “There is no limit to the
growth potential. The current trade volume between India and Taiwan is to the
tune of US$7 billion. There is a lot of market to scale up further. Taiwan’s
trade with China alone is US$160 billion,” he told the Economic
FoxConn has set up a sizeable plants near Chennai and Andhra
Pradesh. It has plans to expand in Maharashtra as well. It recently announced
that it will be assembling Apple’s latest IPhone in India, which will help
Apple to grow it’s India footprint.
Japan and India have a long history of association in the
automotive sector. With India making strong moves towards electric vehicles,
Japanese companies are gearing up for hybrid and electric vehicles on Indian
roads. Basides Honda, Nissan is set to make an aggressive India entry with it’s
electric vehicles, starting with the Leaf. Taiwan, on the other hand, is eyeing
India’s rapidly growing solar sector – which depends heavily on Chinese
technology and equipment at the moment. Taiwanese firms are also bringing their Indian partners into
global value chains. Moreover, Taiwan can add value in areas that India is
prioritizing, for example, with its technology and techniques in the ICT,
healthcare, agriculture, and food processing sectors.
While Japan already has it’s foot in the door in several of these sectors ( in some cases, it has even exited certain ventures that have gone sour such as the Tata Docomo deal in telecom and Ranbaxy-Daiichi Sankyo deal in healthcare) Taiwan is still testing the waters.
But whichever way the wind blows, there’s no doubt that China better watch out — India is definitely looking further east towards new horizons.
The currently frigid US state
policy to resist any Chinese government-powered trade has led to the rapid
shuttering of 24 China-funded Confucius Institutes across American
universities. Meanwhile, even as the Indian government monitors the growth of
these institutes warily in cities across the country, China seems to be keen to
close the gaps in cultural and language exchange with its neighbour by offering
scholarships to Indian students to promote the study of Mandarin. Inchin Closer
believes that the need to safeguard power internally and uphold indigenous
values and traditions should not deprive countries like India and the US of
maintaining their history of multicultural harmony.
Rising dissent and investigative probing of the Confucius Institutes across universities in America has led to shutting down of at least ten of its centres within this year itself and more are set to follow. Citing reasons like lack of transparency and political propaganda to promote a pro-Beijing narrative, efforts continue to thwart any visage of supposed ‘intelligence leakage’ embedded within home turf from a potent political and economic rival. The Chinese government’s attempt to control academic discourse on its history through these institutes as part of its soft power strategy may be unauthenticated so far. In spite of this, US universities that hosted 40 percent of the Confucius Institutes since the Institute’s inception in 2004 seem to have no choice but to comply with the US government’s directive. Contributing to the Cold War ideology of keeping China at bay is set to affect the traffic of Chinese students on campus that amounts to 400,000 at present and millions in funding.
If the culling of Chinese learning is being enforced as a response to growing mistrust and need to protect American interest, America’s Modern Language Association records a fall of over 9% in foreign language learning across universities between 2013 to 2016. To sustain seamless collaborations in the global economy, the need for foreign language skill in the US has multiplied in the last five years with nine out of ten employees demanding it as a pre-requisite. Spanish, Chinese and Japanese are the most sought-after languages professionally highlighting the need to incorporate foreign language learning as instrumental in enhancing job opportunities. As the second largest economy after its own, the US would be wise not to undermine the need for Chinese language learning.
Similarly, India which will share 50 percent of the world’s GDP with China by 2050, cannot ignore the need to cultivate Mandarin. Although China has been advocating the establishment of Confucius Institutes in India since 2012, there are only three functional centres in Mumbai, Vellore and Kolkata so far. A conscious resistance against succumbing to the soft power penetration of Chinese influence and espionage through educational institutions has led to India looking critically and cautiously at these Institutes.
While other world language and cultural centres like Alliance Francaise, British Council or Goethe Institute do not elicit such reservations, China’s communist nature, its ambitious geopolitical clout and aggressive foreign policy are ensuring India administers its own guidelines for the running of China’s state-sponsored cultural centres within its borders.
With the US coming down heavily on trading relations with China, President Xi Jinping will be looking to secure better partnerships with India in coming days. Chinese Government Scholarships are enabling Indian students from Mumbai University to head to China to pursue language studies in Mandarin and it will be interesting to see if this trend catches on in the rest of the country.
What does the Year of the Pig hold for India-China bilateral
Will the pig stay at home, eat roast beef or have none?
Inchin Closer takes a look.
Move over Maruti Suzuki. China’s big boys in the automotive industry are about to muscle in on your turf. While Geely Motors is channelling itself through luxury brands like Daimler Benz and Volvo, SAIC Motorcorp is setting up it’s own plant in Halol to manufacture cars under the MG label.
With Electric Vehicles driving us into the future, China’s prowess in Lithium and battery technology gives it a major advantage. Other Chinese companies are worming their way in with ancillaries like motor parts and safety equipment. China is also rolling out in the tyre space. According to the Economic Times: “Of the 115 BIS licenses given for selling tyres in India, 36 are to Chinese companies.”
Micro finance is a new watchword in India as companies extend
small lines of credit and loans to lower income groups in tier II and tier III
cities to help them overcome the cash-flow hurdle before each month’s pay
cheque. Jade Value, the investment arm of Chinese finance firm, CashBus,
recently invested in Olly Credit. China has long-term vision – Indian youth’s
consumer spending is on the rise and an available line of credit helps to
increase their spending power. LoanTap, another financial firm has raised a
round of funding from Shunwei Capital, a Chinese VC, to offer loans and
overdraft facilities to working professionals in India.
The big boys like Alibaba, Tencent and CTrip have already cast their net into the e-commerce ocean and the next wave is gearing up to wash onto India’s digital shores. India’s start-up culture is a hotbed of investment for Chinese VCs.
“Although some of the Chinese giants have already tested the water, it is expected that in the coming years, SMEs of China are also likely to explore growth opportunities in India, especially in the digital sectors, which is primarily controlled by domestic companies’ or MNCs in China,” says a report from KPMG. “Several firms including Qiming Ventures, Morningside Ventures, CDH Investments, 01VC and Orchid Asia Group are already looking to buy stakes in startups in India since the beginning of 2018.” the report added.
Chinese telecom and technology manufacturers have gone all
out to be price competitive and create easy financing solutions for their Indian
telecom providers — including government carrier BSNL! Their tech prowess is
higher, allowing them to offer customized solutions which European and American
manufacturers are unable to do. However, profitability continues to remain a
big issue. Companies like Huawei and ZTE hope that introduce 5G at competitive
price points will give rise to a whole host of new technology and industries
that can supply incremental revenues.
Made By China may soon be the tag on a lot of Indian infrastructure. Heavy equipment manufacturer, SANY, has established a factory at Chakan, just outside of Pune and aims to have sales worth 1.1 billion USD from India by 2020. Renewable energy infrastructure is another huge area of growth for the Chinese in India. 90% of solar power infrastructure and a large amount of wind power infrastructure is dominated by Chinese companies. Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat have been the immediate beneficiaries as companies like Trina, Longian, CETC, TBEA and TWBB (to name a few) have set up manufacturing centers in these states. Hunan based CRRC has won big in the railways sector, to supply metro railway coaches for several cities and has set up a joint venture manufacturing unit in Haryana.
Can’t live with them, can’t live without them. That’s the
bottom line where Chinese foreign direct investment in India is concerned. It looks
like this little pig is going to cry “Wei Wei Wei” all the way home.
UPDATE: Amazon has stepped up its investment in India and pumped in US$402,920,000 (Rs 2,800 crore) on 7th June.
Amazon may be pulling out of China’s US$1.3 trillion e-commerce market but the game’s not up for the Seattle-based behemoth as it focuses on cross-border shopping with more and more Chinese seeking to buy branded and luxury products. E-commerce regulations in China favour this upcoming trend.
Cross-border shopping has gained relevance recently due to Chinese
consumers’ growing discontent with local products whose quality and safety may
be circumspect. The value of this market is rising by 15% year on year,
reinforcing the fact that customers in China are willing to invest their faith
in brands that promise value for money. Buying directly from the manufacturers
may often prove cheaper for consumers seeking cost-effective imported deals.
The assurance of buying original goods is often given more emphasis over a
possible shipping delay. Amazon
will be looking to cash in on this social media-driven trend of shopping for brands
that are coveted internationally.
Across the border, Amazon India grapples with rigid e-commerce
regulations, stiff competition from arch rival Flipkart which boasts revenues
of US$3.8 billion and the looming entry of Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s
e-commerce giant. The collaboration between Reliance Retail and data arm Reliance Jio Infocomm will
massively increase data
access to millions in rural India pushing products exclusively from Reliance
Retail to a million+ captive audience hooked on his data network. That this
deal has the new government’s blessing, will only aide Mr. Ambani in squashing
his rivals and giving Amazon India a real run for its money.
Amazon India nonetheless, still has some ammunition left in
its arsenal. Bezos‘ strategy aims at upping its e-commerce to US$5 billion by
reaching another 100 million consumers in 2023. The plan includes tapping on
the resources of local shopkeepers, making available a lower version of its
mobile app that consumes less memory to appeal to users of cheaper mobile
phones, boosting its rural merchant count while offering great discounts and a
wide array of products. With so much intensive competition within the sector, India’s thriving e-commerce pie
is expected to be worth US$200 billion by 2028 (as per a Morgan Stanley
Amazon’s experience in both China and India unfolds an interesting insight into our retail worlds. Although both nations have a billion plus consumers, their e-commerce trajectories have been quite different. With China’s population ageing fast and India’s median age being 27.9 years in 2018, Chinese and Indian consumers although often clubbed alike, are different by nurture.
With the trade war between China and the US worsening, China will look to India to offload some of its goods. China might have an advantage, by having a more mature understanding of the e-commerce sector, but will have to play her foreign policy cards right to strike a deal in India, especially with a strong domestic incumbent. Then again, Beijing is familiar with squashing monopolies.
With general elections taking place across India, a new government is already in the making. In a two part series, Inchin Closer takes a look on what the new Indian administration should focus on with China, her largest neighbour and trading partner. From natural resources to national security, curbing terrorism to regional policy, are there ways for Asia’s largest nations to work with one another?
In the first part of this series, we take a look at the geopolitics of South Asia and the role that these two giants play.
MARITIME SECURITY & POLICY:
China’s Maritime Strategy 2015 clearly
states it’s intent to increase it’s presence in the Indian Ocean. Karachi and
Gwadar in Pakistan have already been named as key naval bases and China’s
growing ports in Sri Lanka like Hanbantota, do nothing to ease the tension
between the two navies.
China has recently moved nuclear armed
submarines into the Indian Ocean, creating a series of “pressure points” in the
South Asian seas, which is directly at odds with India’s “Act East” policy that
aims to strengthen India’s presence right up to the West Pacific. China aims to
increase it’s naval power exponentially – to about 350 surface warships and 100
submarines by 2030-35. India has also made heavy investments in increasing it’s
naval capacity. Will the pumped up maritime muscle of these two Asian giants
serve to keep each other in check?
achieved a major diplomatic breakthrough this week when China finally backed
down at the UN Security Council, and agreed to vote in favour of Masood Azhar,
the leader of Pakistan-based terrorist outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM),
designating Azhar as a global terrorist. China’s covert support for Azhar at
the UNSC has been a major sore point in relations between India and China.
Azhar was released to Pakistani authorities by India during a hostage exchange,
he founded the JeM, which subsequently took responsibility for several major
terrorism attacks in the region – most recently Pulwama in Kashmir. The exact
reasons why China protected Azhar are opaque, but some strategists feel that it
could be a retaliation to India’s protection of the Dalai Lama, whom the
Chinese view as a dangerous separatist leader.
it time for China and India to collaborate more closely with one another on
military intelligence to prevent terrorist attacks in the region? A potential
point of collaboration could be technology – as the smart city wave sweeps over
India, perhaps China and India could work together to implement better security
systems including security camera tracking systems, artificial intelligence,
face scanning, biometrics and citizen data. But on the other hand, if they are
instrumental in building such systems, China could also manipulate them for
their own use.
leveraging each other’s intelligence for regional harmony would be ideal, there
is still a long way to go before India, China and Pakistan reach a happy
elexir of life, India and China’s dependance on water continues to increase even
as more water bodies get polluted and fewer fresh water resources are available
to a growing population.
Mansarover’s watershed is a much sought after and fought after fresh water supply
between the neighbors. While both China and India’s river systems are aplenty water
is becoming a precious resource and needs to be managed effectively between the
nations especially since many of India’s rivers origniate from China.
on sharing water resources between the two nations would be a monumental
breakthrough for the entire region’s peace and stability, however Inchin Closer
feels this would take a lot more time and understanding between the nations.
THE CHINA BELT & ROAD
second China Belt & Road summit took place recently, but India continues to
decline to participate, despite China’s insistent overtures. The reasons are
many – not least of which was a diplomatic stand off, thanks to China’s veto on
Azhar being designated a global terrorist. But security is not the only concern
for participants of the BRI. Economics is another. Many of them feel it’s like
a debt-trap – wherein China’s infrastructure investment comes at a high
political and financial cost, which many of them are unable to repay. In fact,
China needs to be cognizant of the economic impact of unpaid debt from the BRI
on it’s own economy.
The New Silk Road overland route connects China all the way to Europe (see map above). Italy is the latest European country to sign on. But participants have already voiced concerns over unwieldy logistics and red-tape, particularly in the Central Asian region.
a wary onlooker, even as it’s regional neighbours – Sri Lanka and Pakistan –
have clambered onto the bandwagon. Despite the trade advantages, several
political strategists feel that it is not yet to India’s benefit to
participate. However, in the long run, if the BRI is optimised and used to the
mutual benefit of both countries, both India and China could benefit from it enormously
– making South Asia the super power it once was.
struggles in South Asia are nothing new, but it’s time for a fresh approach.
With a new administration sweeping in to drive India forward into 2020, it
would be fortuitous to have China as an ally rather than an enemy.
543 seats. Over 10 lakh polling stations. The Lok Sabha election 2019 has gathered steam and is keeping the entire country on its toes as 900 million Indians vote in the largest election in the world. Amidst all the action is the inimitable voice of one man who claims he has the power of an alchemist to turn India into a superpower. As Prime Minister Narendra Modi aims to keep term with an encore to the last elections he fought, Inchin Closer reflects on how he matches the powerful vision and ambitions of an equally dynamic leader across the border, his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.
Minister Narendra Modi’s wish of seeing India as a superpower is not very
different from Chinese President Xi Jinping’s promise of fulfilling the ‘China
dream’. Both leaders strive for global recognition but while retaining a
significant and strong nationalistic foundation. They both play to the
galleries and have always tried to reach out to the masses, gaining from the
populist mileage they create in their wake. Both Xi and Modi came to power
around the same time. Xi took over the reigns of the Chinese Communist Party
(CCP) in 2013 and has been architecting its destiny at an unprecedented pace,
fiercely protective about the nation’s sovereignty and undeterred in his zeal
for economic supremacy across the world. Modi was elected Prime Minister in
2014, largely supported by the antagonism against the then existing Congress
party rule and fuelled by a strategically sound front put up by the Bhartiya Janata
their absolute loyalty to their respective parties as a badge of honour, they
are both not known to mince words when it comes to critiquing rivals who may
try to overshadow their vision. Both have also been extremely diligent when it
comes to forging close ties with neighbours and fostering a durable foreign
policy that hinges on mutual co-operation. Modi is only two countries short of
Xi’s score of visiting 39 countries in a span of merely two years, underlining
the need for a revival of faith in their countries’ international stature.
one must admit that Xi has a relatively easier ground to operate on, in a
nation that is unified and bound by the common desire for social empowerment. As
a representative of a country that has multi-faceted complexities and is
distinctly diverse in religion, language and community within its very borders,
Modi is still dependent on the vote of his people dictated by the edicts of the
world’s largest democracy. To tide through the bureaucratic mess and the opposition’s
chaos in a country like India takes both endurance and tact.
Xi is poised at the epicentre of control in a socialist state that gives him
immense freedom in taking decisive steps when it comes to international trade
and investment. This has manifested in several nations across Southeast and
Central Asia to Africa becoming ready allies to China’s resource-rich promise
of infrastructural growth. Modi on the other hand, must navigate through a
circuitous path to channelise his moves, beset by an unyielding and highly
resistant system of slow-moving institutions and processes.
As chairman of
the Central Military Commission, Xi exerts firm control over the technological
development and rapid modernisation of China’s weaponry system. His revolutionisation of the military,
airforce and naval artillery is aimed at self-defense, with an eye on spreading
its influence in the South China Sea, the Pacific and the Indian Ocean.
military moves although relatively restrained in comparison have been coldly
calculated and promptly deployed to counter terrorism, winning him plaudits
more than brickbats. While some consider the successive surgical strikes after
the Uri and Pulwama tragedies as a fitting military reply to terrorism- it has
also labelled him an ‘autocrat’ who is seeking self-aggrandisement at the cost
of impaling the democracy.
It is clear that Modi will win the elections only through
consensus of the majority unlike President Xi’s one-party monopoly. His
emphasis will remain on staying true to his resolute and steadfast reputation
of taking India from being a frequently undermined developing nation to the
third largest economy after China and the US by 2030. His clarion call for
national integration, flourishing commerce and solidarity with countries beyond
one’s own mirror Xi’s ruling principles and are most likely to see him through as
one of India’s unrivalled ambassadors of favourable geopolitical and domestic
Fueled by cash flows and expanding channels of communication, China and India are awakening to a third round of bilateral brotherhood, focused on cultural exchange.
I was living in Shanghai and working as the
Indian head of an Asian tax and legal consultancy in 2008 at a time when
cultural exchange between China and India left plenty to be desired. Indian art
and cultural performances touring China’s major cities attracted mostly Indian
spectators, who enjoyed wallowing in song and dance from their mother- land
because of homesickness. Chinese people tended to be rare at these cultural
Many reasons could be blamed for the
phenomenon— awareness of India in China was low at the time. Most Chinese
didn’t know India as the software superpower it is today. Its economy was
gently growing 3.9 percent annually. Most Chinese hadn’t traveled to India,
were not particularly interested in it and hadn’t heard too much about it.
India was a poorer, slower and smaller neighbor and mostly inconsequential to
China, which had a GDP growth of 9.7 percent.
However, in 2017, an influx of investments
led by Alibaba and Tencent who announced or closed deals valued or nearing US$2
billion, heralded a renewed Chinese interest in India’s flourishing soft power.
China and India have had a rich tradition of
exchange dating back centuries. The first wave was led by Xuanzang’s journey to
the West and the spread of Buddhism across China. The second round was fueled
by business, initially through the trade of cotton and tea and eventually the
more lucrative opium. Today, fueled by cash flows and expanding channels of
communication, China and India
are re-awakening to a third round of bilateral brotherhood focused on cultural
FILM AND TELEVISION COOPERATION
Aamir Khan’s movie 3 Idiots grossed US$3
million in China just a few years ago, helping cement India’s image as an
enchanting, colorful nation capable of fascinating the Chinese.
Today, film cooperation between India and
China is booming. Inchin Closer, a China-India language and cultural
consultancy I founded in 2010, is in the thick of translating an animation
script for a 5D film that was written in and will be produced in India but
shown in 5D theaters in China. This project is making the most of India’s film production
skills and China’s infrastructural abilities.
Also in the works is a pilot for a Chinese TV
series, exclusively created, scripted and produced in India solely for the
Chinese audience. Considering that China is home to the greatest number of screens
world- wide, the content consumed by the country’s story-hungry consumers has
skyrocketed, and media producers in Beijing are bending over backwards to meet
the rising demand. Unable to keep up with the demand themselves, domestic
Chinese producers are commissioning Indian production companies to make TV
shows specially for the Chinese audience. A trend never imagined before, China
is now looking to India for her rich storytelling, film- making and production
abilities to create world-class content that can be seamlessly sold to
audiences from Shanghai to Kashgar.
Concurrently, Chinese content is also being
created for Indian eyes. Translated from Chinese to Hindi is a Beijing-based TV
series of historical Chinese stories that will be subtitled and dubbed for air
on Indian networks. Stories from the Qin Dynasty will be shown on Indian TVs
soon, highlighting ancient traditions and customs—similarities our two nations
share. Indian audiences will witness the parallels that Indian and Chinese
historical dramas, mythology and epics share.
The secret to making Bollywood movies so
spicy is creative chaos, an element that China’s films seem to lack. India’s film
industry functions in a mad sync that only its insiders understand. Until
China’s film industry can harness its creative juices and pour out unbridled
passion, storytelling will remain India’s strength.
The cultural similarities between China and
India have proved a big advantage for the latter when creating content for the
mobile-screen-toting, binge-watching Chinese viewer. Modern twists on
love stories and mythological epics are especially high in demand, and just
what Indian production houses—skilled in the genre— are being commissioned to
write by Chinese media companies. Beijing is now looking to Mumbai, the capital
of India’s film industry, to learn from and accelerate its storytelling and film
Recently, a high-level government delegation
led by Mr. Feijin Du, member of the Standing Committee of the CPC Beijing Municipal
Committee, visited Mumbai and New Delhi. Delegates met film producers, the head
of the Mumbai Film Festival and government officials to work out plans to host
bilateral film festivals. The agenda was clearly designed to facilitate
learning the secrets of Bollywood.
films and TV series are not the only carriers of the cultural collision
between China and India. Interest in both nations’ literature has also swelled.
A translation of Amar Chitra Katha’s graphic novel on Mahatma Gandhi is now in
the works. The novel has already been translated into Chinese and will soon be
available at bookstores and for online downloads, enabling Chinese readers to
understand how India fought for independence against the British with
Alongside the media, other technology has
enabled Indians and the Chinese to traverse cultural barriers. Many have fallen
in love, married and moved to the other country, adapting to family values,
traditions and a new way of life. Xiao Ming is one example: Now a mother of
three children, she married Gautam, a software engineer from Bangalore, India’s
Silicon Valley, nine years ago. Today, she earns a lucrative living translating
documents between Chinese and English, the languages of business for China and
Xiao Ming is a member of a constantly growing
WeChat group of Chinese wives who are married to Indian men. The group, with
almost 200 members, was started about six years ago when a few women came
together to support each other in a foreign land. Although few have met each
other, the group is an extremely strong support network to help the newly
married settle into India’s chaotic cities. The most discussed topic in the
group is food. The women help each other recreate dishes from home in Indian
cities where Chinese ingredients aren’t easily accessible. One woman even
figured out how to make tofu from scratch since the Indian paneer (cottage
cheese) never came close in taste or texture. Other topics of conversation
range from how to deal with in-laws, experiences growing up as single children
in China, and raising kids in a multicultural home.
Many enjoyed boisterous Indian weddings.
Marriages in India, like in Bollywood movies, are colorful and peppered with
lots of song and dance. However, traditional Hindu weddings involve the couple
circumambulating around a fire to the tempo of a priest chanting ‘mantras’ or
blessings for the couple. Inchin Closer was recently called to translate these
mantras for a Chinese bride’s family who had travelled from Hunan Province for
their daughter’s marriage to Prashant. The Chinese side of the wedding party
was enthusiastic about understanding the meaning behind the customs and
SINGING IN CHINESE
Jankee, a professional Indian singer, was
recently invited to sing a Chinese song at a traditional Indian wedding. The
groom’s family had some important Chinese clients at his wedding and wanted to
impress them. So Jankee was enlisted to learn and sing Mandarin pop songs to
impress and entertain the Chinese clientele at the wedding.
Because Mandarin remains China’s primary
language, producers must make content in Mandarin. However, because of its
vital role in bridging relations in business, the number of Indians interested
in learning Mandarin has skyrocketed. Businesspeople, traders, merchants,
entrepreneurs and professionals all want to learn the language so they can
seamlessly do business in China. Speaking Mandarin gives them a big advantage.
They can communicate easily with clients, which establishes a channel of trust
and camaraderie, which translates into better prices and profits in India.
China is also drawing in Indian youth with
opportunities to experience the country and culture first- hand through
programs such as those offering attractive scholarships to study Mandarin. In
2010, approximately 80 Indian students were offered scholarships to study Mandarin
and by 2018, the number had almost doubled to 150. Studying, living and working
in China not only offers Indians firsthand experience in the country, but also
helps them make friends and build a lasting relationship with their neighbor.
Through these various channels, strengthening
of cultural relations between peoples of the world’s two most populated nations
is on the upswing. This third wave of cultural camaraderie is fueling stronger
relations between China and India. And through the intermingling of the threads
that bind our people, our nations will weave an ornate quilt of love, respect
and a deeper understanding of each other.
How English is a language of exchange and empowerment for both nations
By Kavita Ogale
When Chinese blogger Hua Qianfang recently commented on Weibo that English learning is ‘a trash skill for most Chinese that wastes countless energy and money’ he met with stiff resistance. Not surprisingly though – A major chunk of both China and India’s burgeoning youth population aspire for better economic growth and opportunities, social status and global exposure, and is their English golden ticket to a more prosperous future,
The English education market in China grew from RMB 123.6
billion (USD 18.4 billion) to RMB 489.7 billion (USD 72.9 billion) between 2016
to 2017, and is estimated to grow to RMB 947 billion (USD 141 billion) this
year, according to a report by by Daxue Consulting a China focused market
Spurred by this high demand, the need for English teachers in
China is at an all-time high. Both offline and online training beyond schools
is being sought after, whether in the form of brick and mortar institutions or
apps. The online English language market in China itself has roped in an
investment of RMB 1.8 billion (USD 0.2 billion) in 2017. Over 500,000 Chinese
students enrolled in online English training companies like VIPKid.
India is in the lead with an English speaking population of 125 million[; which gives her an advantage especially in International service oriented jobs such as call centers. China’s English speaking population is estimated at 10 million.
The language that went up a hill and came down a mountain
India, of course, has
its British colonial past and statesman Thomas Babington Macaulay to be thanked
for English making inroads in the education system in the 19th century (around 1830),
in order to ease British bureaucratic processes.
While the foray of
English entry in China dates back to the 17th century, it was only in 1862 that
the country adopted a scholastic approach to teaching the language. However,
the institution of the People’s Republic led to seismic changes in foreign
language education, where learning English was aborted during the Cultural
Revolution. The death of Mao
Zedong ushered in a renaissance for the English language owing to Deng
Xiaoping’s Open Door policy, building the foundation of contemporary China’s
political and economic voice in years to come. This is the reason why English remains India’s lingua franca
for government and business, while Mandarin remains China’s language
The writing is on the wall. Global powers through the
centuries have been represented by countries that are driven by English as
their spoken and written form of communication. When 20% of the world’s
population speaks one tongue which is also the most sought after foreign
language being learnt across the globe, it certainly cannot be ignored.
Nationalistic naysayers may deride the elitist westernisation
that English represents for China and advocate keeping its spread in check. Inchin
Closer, however, believes that as both India and China take competitive strides
to answer the call of industry, environment, trade, travel and education on the
world stage, English will continue to resonate as the go-to language to counter
the communication gaps of its masses and classes.
‘Whoever is first in
the field and awaits the coming of the enemy will be fresh for the fight;
whoever is second in the field and has to hasten to battle will arrive
exhausted’ – Sun Tzu, the Art of War.
WHO’S GOT GAME?
Truer words couldn’t be spoken when it comes to FinTech,
China and India are choreographing an intricate two-step routine, with China
taking the lead. China is spreading her roots in the Indian Subcontinent by
seeding investment and sharing technology platforms with India’s burgeoning
Giving people the power over their own finances, online
retailers like Flipkart who are receiving funding from Chinese firms, aim to
become NBFC’s (Non-banking financial corporations) in their own right, so that
they can directly underwrite credit for their customers, rather than farm it
out to a bank.
The China-Eurasian Economic Cooperation Fund (CEECF), a
state-backed Chinese fund has also recently backed Indian cab aggregator, Ola,
which is also pursuing the NBFC route.
functionality too, having seen success in-house, Chinese companies are
also betting on the “EMI” (equated month instalment) and micro loan route in
India, which is rapidly gaining popularity among the youth making purchases
Smartphone technology is driving digital payments as well as
digital lending in India – and this is like offering honey to a bear. Chinese
micro-lending company Fenqile and smartphone maker Xiaomi have already swarmed
in and are making an investment in Bengaluru-based student lending platform
KrazyBee. Xiaomi has also made another strategic investment in digital lending
startup – ZestMoney, according to the Economic Times.
The cross-pollination between China and India in fintech is
also spreading to top tier talent. WeCash has recently
hired several Indians onto its team, including Puneet Agarwal and Daman Soni
from Mobikwik and Nitin Agarwal from Incred Finance – even as Tencent eyes an
investment into Mobikwik. And we already know that some of the big names in
Indian industry have already parked a strategic investment in Chinese
companies, such as Ratan Tata’s stake in Xiaomi.
However, the biggest implementation of fintech in India is
yet to come with the launch of the first wave of smart-cities, and we have no
doubt that Chinese technology will certainly be playing it’s part in making
India’s cities “smarter.”
Even though India and China may have the occasional bout of
disputes over their geographical borders, the virtual borders are already being
wiped out by technology collaborations. That’s why we feel that India and China
aren’t competing with one another, but are in fact leveraging their mutual
interests in the FinTech space for mutual benefit.
Did you… just buy your
airline tickets online instead of the family travel agent? Shop for your
groceries on a website vs. a “kiraana dukaan”? If so, you’re already part of a
fintech revolution that is sweeping Asia off it’s feet.
In the race for adoption, China leads the pack. But India is
fast catching up. Is this something that China needs to be concerned about? Not
really – because when you just paid your highway toll in India using PayTM, did
you realize that it’s powered by the Chinese tech powerhouse – Alibaba? Or that
your last Zomato order could take place thanks to Ant Financial’s investment in
China is a global fintech leader, but as the government
started to cash in on the FinTech boom and spike the interest rates for
home-grown companies in China, several of them have opted to look beyond the
Middle Kingdom to grow their business and achieve global leadership in the
The Chinese administration has clamped down recently and
imposed several regulations and restrictions on financial service companies and
their customers. While some people believe that this is not necessarily a bad
thing, it could be the harbinger of a slow down in growth within China itself.
Therefore, Ant, Tencent and others are looking at other parts of Asia to grow
their business. This is precisely where India zooms into focus.
“Alipay Singapore – the Singapore branch of Ant Financial,
and Zomato have sealed a US$210 investment deal, just six months after the
world’s largest fintech company made a US$150 million investment in the South
Asian food delivery firm. The latest investment will be for a 10% stake in
Zomato, bringing the Indian company’s valuation to around US$2 billion.
The deal comes just as reports that Chinese internet giant
Tencent plans to invest as much as US$700 million in Swiggy, Zomato’s main
competitor in the Indian market, after previously accepting investments from
According to a recent report by JP Morgan, fintech firms in
India have only succeeded in catering to 23 percent of the affluent section of
the Indian economy while a huge portion – roughly a 600-million-strong
population mostly of lower- and middle-income groups still remains untapped. Furthermore, the fintech landscape is
lead by market place lending at around 29-30%. Payments and remittances come
next at around 25-27%. A plethora
of categories including savings and investments, borrowings and financial
planning services yet need to break into the Indian market, leaving the
potential for growth not only in volume but also categories.
The potential for growth in India, especially Bharat (rural
India) is huge – and Chinese fintech companies are ready to cash in, literally.
Isn’t it ironic? CEO Eric Jing says that Ant Financial got its name because ‘ants
are small and its service was for the “little guys.”’ What these companies are
counting on is volume led growth.
WeCash, one of the largest players in the lending space in
China has already set up shop in India, and entered with a consumer-lending
product in partnership with banks. They aim to source borrowers for banks.
Their goal: to target the masses – the vast number of people across various
regions of the country who have remained financially underserved by traditional
brick and mortar institutions.
Is there a future? Inchin Closer certainly thinks so. In a world where currency is moving towards a paperless model, FinTech has a far more significant role to play and the Chinese have the advantage. Follow us as we bring you further insights into the future of Chinese fintech investments in India and the reasons why.
The tense stand off between India and China; a power play of strategy, sovereignty and territorial interests of two emerging Asian nations has the region in a tight wrap. With spillover effects into our economies and society, a clash between the Asian titians is unlikely, yet it’s going to take more than man and machine for either country to back off first.
With autocratic leaders at their helm, both China and India need to prove to the region and world, that the other is surmountable. As both nations flex their muscles, military analysts expect to see China test India on her vulnerable Eastern border more and India fight back with equal strength and vigour to protect her territory.
There’s no sale without scale. Or at least not in the virtual world. Ladies and gentlemen, grab your mouse tightly – the great e-commerce chess game has begun.
As the Amazonian giant from the USA makes its great leap into the subcontinent, local e-commerce players in India, such as Flipkart and Snapdeal are scrambling. But wait – there just maybe a silver lining in the offing, as China rubs its magic lamp and produces an investor in the form of Alibaba.
In a dramatic move that has swiveled eyeballs in the FinTech world, Alibaba has agreed to double up on its investment – putting down 1,100 crore (Approx. US$177 million) to increase its stake in PayTM, and more significantly, launch PayTM Mall, a direct rival to homegrown e-commerce players.
Even as Beijing’s citizens are making “lung cleansing” trips to Antarctica and Iceland to break free of a fossil-fuel smog encased China, the Chinese government is already taking action to make its citizens breathe easier. Perhaps Delhi needs to sit up and take notice before it has to declare more “state of emergency due to pollution” scenarios, like we witnessed in 2016. India is a country with enormous elemental abundance, which can easily be harnessed to create clean, efficient, economical energy. So where do we stand versus China in this matter?
In China installed wind capacity has crossed 129 GW in India installed wind capacity is approximately 23.4 GW
Installed solar capacity is over 43 GW in China; in India installed solar capacity is just about 5 GW
China is aiming for 150 GW of solar and 200 GW of wind by 2020; India’s target for 2022 is 100 GW of solar and 60 GW of wind.
The National Energy Administration is planning a massive investment in renewable energy that are cleaner, greener, and more efficient – and has committed a stupendous investment of 2.5 trillion yuan to make China’s free of its dependency on fossil fuels by 2020. India is not all that far behind as one of the top ten investors in renewable sources of energy worldwide, but it have an uphill task ahead of her.
“…you cannot ignore a fifth of the world’s population…as an entrepreneur, if you have the opportunity to build both Amazon and Alibaba at the same time, you’d be crazy not to try.”
– Travis Kalenick, CEO Uber.
Is Uber’s unicorn cowboy trying to do precisely this?
As the date for its hyped up IPO draws closer, investors are questioning whether the unicorn will be a rainmaker – or be reined in.
On the surface, it appears as if Kalenick has sacrificed his Alibaba genie for the Amazonian advantage. After losing two billion USD initially in a head to head battle with Chinese rival Didi Chuxing, Uber has “closed” its China operations, a move that investors see as positive, given the losses it has racked up – but will it turn the tide completely for Uber’s global push?
Inchin Closer reviews the situation from an Asian perspective.
Is Uber moving out of China or simply taking a strategic side-step that may light its candle at both ends – for its US IPO, and its Chinese market share?
Is Didi a friendly investor or a dragon crouching in the shadows, waiting for the right moment?
Is Uber really being bought out, as it claims, or buying in?
As rightly put by Shivshankar Menon, India’s former national security adviser, the relationship between India and China is clearly under stress. “We need to find a new equilibrium between elements we’ve always been juggling — economic competition and complementarity, and strategic sensitivities” – he told the Financial Times.
The sweet and sour neighbours, China and India have recently been at loggerheads over several issues which are gaining heightened importance as both stalwart heads of state, Prime Minister Modi and President Xi take charge of their bilateral affairs.
The buzzword is that over a slew of meetings scheduled in the next 3 months, both leaders are expected to iron out their differences and tango more in complement with each other. The first visit on August 12 was by Wang Yi, China’s foreign minister to New Delhi. The aim of the meeting was to lay the communication groundwork before the upcoming G20 Summit in Hangzhou, China and the BRICS Summit in Goa, India. In other wards, it was Mr. Wang’s agenda to make sure India doesn’t stoke dissent against the South China Sea dispute.
During his visit, Mr. Wang met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and the Governor and Chief Minister of Goa. Chinese state councillor and former foreign minister Yang Jiechi, who is Beijing’s designated special representative for border negotiations is also expected to visit India soon to quell tensions that have arisen with Beijing’s unilateral support of Pakistan. The flourishing friendship between India’s tense neighbours – China and Pakistan has created a strong rift in India China relations. With China asserting her infrastructural and investment muscle in Pakistan. Mr. Yang will need to come with a strong strategy if the two nations are going to support each other in the upcoming meetings.
We live in an interesting investment climate, where India and China can’t either do with or without each other.
Cross border investments in online apps and platforms are breaking traditional barriers and creating healthy, profitable companies for both nations. For the Indian start-up market to flourish, Chinese investments are important and a vital cog in the wheel that will turn the Indian economy around.
For Chinese investors, India is a massive market, similar to theirs, with a huge growth potential. Smell a win-win situation? Yet there are hurdles, a lack of political will and diplomatic trust enter at various points in a healthy India-China relationship to often mar the smooth functioning and often put a spanner in the works. However, since there is a strong potential that the bond between India and China will withstand political head winds, Inchin Closer takes a look at the India strategy for the Big 3 Chinese investment heavy weights – Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent – or BAT as they are more commonly referred to. The article aims to demonstrate where these investment bell weathers are now and the direction they are looking at. It is expected to foretell, the direction Chinese investments into India will take and subsequently how the rest will follow.
ALIBABA: A scion for a variety of low priced goods, Alibaba has recently tied up with Indian payments gateways Paytm to initially allow select Indian Indian sellers to source products from China at cheaper rates as well as help them with logistics and payments. India is an inevitable market for Alibaba for whom a developing market in search of cheap goods is perfect, as compared to Europe. As a result, Alibaba India already has 4.5 million registered users, making it the world’s second largest market for Alibaba after China. Additionally, Alibaba invested US$680 million into Paytm last September making it the largest investor in the mobile payments leader. In October, Alibaba joined softbank to invest US$125 million out of a consolidated investment of US$500 million into Snapdeal an online shopping portal.
As India stands in the sunshine with her rising GDP projections, growing investments and overall sunny outlook over a gloomy global economy, in the shadows lurks responsibility. The responsibility of sizing her social sector up to International (read Western) standards.
Taking a cue from her more stalwart neighbour China, India needs to know that with being a growing emerging market comes caveats of all kinds from afar. Looking into the growth of China and her boom from the 1990’s spurred by foreign investments, technology and capital, came the over arching western regulations to industrial production.
Chinese factories which initially ran robust on low wages suddenly had to deal with the western concept of a minimal wage scheme. Office goers got insurance and social security benefits and companies had to own up to stricter environmental laws. Papers were written on the appalling state of sanitation in China’s rural areas and education was kick started by making English learning enigmatic.
When the West invested in China, they didn’t just do so with their money, but they also poured time and energy in making her more like them. Fashion and diets changed. Holiday destinations and aspirations altered and consumer demands and family structures changed. Bringing in foreign capital meant sweeping changes for the Middle Kingdom. The resident soothsayer at Inchin Closer predicts the same. With India on the rise again, western media eyeing her for potential investments, collaborations and growth, the country will need to simultaneously pull her socks up in other aspects too. For investors don’t come in with a blind eye. They will want better security for their women, better infrastructure and cleaner air.
Indian pharmaceuticals have been trying to enter the Chinese market for a while. Priced cheaper than drugs available on the Mainland, Indian pharma companies have always been kept at bay for fear that they may disrupt the industry. However, there might be light at the end of this tunnel.
Shanghai based Fosun Pharmaceuticals has recently emerged as the billion-dollar bidder for India’s KKR backed Gland Pharma, outstripping US-based Baxter and Advent, as it aims to increase its research and manufacturing prowess. As China gets old before she gets rich, the pharmaceutical industry is now waking up to partnering with Indian drug companies to benefit their billion plus populations and avoid a healthcare meltdown. Both ancient nations have their medical advantages – – China and India supply much of the world (and the same pharma multi-nationals) with their APIs (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients) and generics. – The roots of modern medicine lie in two ancient systems – Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda. So who really wields the whip in this pharmaceutical circus? Inchin Closer pauses to examine the larger picture.
Where are the Chinese headed in India? A question worth asking even as Wang Jainlin, Wanda’s big boss, committed 60,000 crores towards infrastructure in Haryana at the beginning of 2016. A massive industrial park in Kharkoda, near Sonipat, in Haryana is Wanda’s latest drop (more like a downpour, we feel!) in the Indian Ocean. Is this a trailblazing move by China’s cowboy investor, or is he riding a silent wave of Chinese investment? Inchin Closer dives beneath the surface of the matter to take a closer look.
What makes India an attractive prospect for our Chinese neighbours?
Who exactly are these new arrivals off the Chinese junks?
Haryana is leading the Indian pack to lure the Chinese into the Indian playground. So what’s Haryana doing to get the Chinese in? Chief Minister Khattar has made a terrific pitch highlighting:
The ease of doing business and regulation reforms under his regime.
Low rent leases
Friendly tax breaks
Haryana’s enhanced infrastructure facilities.
It’s strategic location with close proximity to the National Capital Region.
Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is on a five day tour of China to pitch for Chinese investments from the slowing Chinese economy. India which is on a growth trajectory is aiming for 7.5 to 8 percent GDP growth at a time when China’s GDP has decelerated to 7 percent.
While the Chinese are interested in investing in India – a neighbour and a large market most investors are yet skeptical on her policies. Mr. Jaitley’s aim is to convince Chinese bankers and wealth fund managers to invest in India. The finance minister is not alone. His visit was proceeded by the Chief Minister of several Indian states, the last being Mr. Shivraj Singh Chouhan, the CM of India’s central and second largest state Madhya Pradesh who was in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou last week with a 20+ member business delegation to pump investments into his state. Madhya Pradesh has already allotted land at Pithampur towards Chinese investments in automobiles, pharmaceuticals and technology and has promised massive discounts in land, taxes and electricity.