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  • Have you tried learning Mandarin from any other language besides English? While pinyin is the defacto phonetic system for foreigners to start speaking Mandarin fast, Hindi and other native Indian languages ranging from Tamil, Bengali, Malayalam and Marathi all make learning Mandarin pronunciations easy.

    Learning Mandarin from Indian language is easy because, Indian’s in 3000 B. C. were able to map the mouth into five varga’s or groups depending on the various sounds humans could make. These five varga’s were based on the Brahmi language from which most Indian languages have originated. Brahmi is the modern name for a writing system of ancient South Asia and includes writing some of the earliest forms of Sanskrit too.

    Interestingly, this map of the mouth, created by ancient Indians doesn’t only apply to Indian languages but to all languages since it’s based on basic mouth movements. Since Indian languages and Mandarin are direct descendants of this mouth map, the sounds made in Mandarin can easily be mapped to sounds in Indian languages.

    Therefore, both Indian languages and Mandarin have mirror sounds from the five sound groups. These are – guttural or back of the throat, palatal – from the palate, cerebral or from the roof of the mouth, dental where the tongue touches the teeth and labial emanating predominantly from the lips.

    At Inchin Closer, we understood early on that Mandarin was best learnt from Indian languages and so we mapped the Mandarin pinyin script to Hindi, India’s national language. Learning Mandarin phonetics from Hindi made Chinese not only fast to pick up for our students, but also much easier since they were learning from a language and sounds that were already very familiar to them.

    The event that we recently held with Mr. Stuart Jay Raj added scientific facts and historical proof to our teaching methodology of applying Hindi while learning Mandarin. During the talk, Mr. Raj explained the mouth map and clearly demonstrated how Mandarin sounds were just mirror replicas of Devanagari, a system of Hindi. To see the full video and uncover how easy it is to learn Mandarin, click here –

    Since we are busting facts and highlighting similarities between Indian and Chinese languages, here are some more eye openers –

    Which country is Mandarin language spoken in?
    Mandarin is the official language of the People’s Republic of China. It is also one of the United Nation’s 6 official languages and is spoken widely in most parts of South East Asia including Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia.

    What are the languages spoken in China?
    China has many dialects spoken within the country. Each province in China has its own dialect, for example people in Shanghai, speak Shanghainese, those in Beijing speak Beijinghua (hua meaning language) and those in Guangdong in the south, speak Cantonese. The difference is that the spoken dialect for each of these provinces sounds different from Mandarin, but the written script is the same. This is why when Chinese people don’t understand each other they often write it down.

    How many words / alphabets in the Chinese language?
    Mandarin doesn’t have alphabets, instead it has characters. Each character is a syllable which means a word consists of either one, two or three syllables. Many Mandarin characters originated from everyday objects ancient Chinese saw around them and are therefore pictorial. However there is a specific stroke order to write each Chinese character and therefore, Chinese language is said to activate both the left (creative) and right (logical) sides of the brain.

    Is Mandarin Chinese simplified or traditional?
    When you use any language software, it will usually ask you if you’d like to use Simplified Chinese or Traditional Chinese? The difference is when you write, in the script, traditional Chinese characters have more strokes and therefore look more complicated than simplified Chinese. In olden times, only the traditional script existed, which is why ancient Chinese texts and poems are all in traditional Chinese. However, in 1956 Mao Zedong or Chairman Mao, introduced the simplified Mandarin script to improve literacy on the mainland. At the same time, Chiang kai Shek in Taiwan refused to simplify the script. This is why Taiwan continues to use the traditional Mandarin script and Mainland China the Simplified Mandarin script.
    There is no difference while speaking traditional Mandarin or simplified Mandarin.

    What is the best English to Chinese translator?
    What is the best Chinese language app?
    The Inchin app available on both android and iOS is a fabulous app to practice Mandarin. The app helps students of the language practice Chinese through interactive stories which makes learning engaging, immersive and very interesting. The Inchin app also has an amazing analytics section which measures students progress based on pronunciation, fluency and accuracy, thereby enabling students to track their progress in the language.

    Powered by AI driven speech recognition technology, the Inchin app assists students in improving both their listening and speaking Chinese skills. Additionally, it also improves reading and writing skills as well as vocabulary building and forming key sentence structures.

  • The HSK exam will be completely revamped before the end of this year, read on to know the changes in store and how it will impact you.

    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.

    LevelDifficulty levelNumber of wordsDifference with old HSK
    HSK 1Beginners500350
    HSK 2Beginners1272972
    HSK 3Elementary22451645
    HSK 4Intermediate32452045
    HSK 5Intermediate43161816
    HSK 6Upper intermediate5456456
    HSK 7Advanced11,092 (TBC)n/a
    HSK 8Advanced11,092 (TBC)n/a
    HSK 9Upper advanced11,092 (TBC)n/a

    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 our emotions.

    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 Emperor.

    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.

    Minstrel Muse…

    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.

    Tagore with Tan Yun-Shan a Chinese scholar and founder of Santiniketan’s Cheena Bhavana, the oldest centre of Chinese studies in South Asia. Tan devoted his life to the cause of Sino-Indian cultural friendship.

    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 1990s.

    A plaque commemorating Tagore and other luminaries who lived in Siming Village with Xu Zhimo. This plaque stands as memory of where Tagore spent a lot of his time in Shanghai.

    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 now.

    A plaque on the walls of Siming Village bearing Tagore’s quote – “The world talks to me with the landscape, and I reply with the music from my soul.” (translated)

    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 conventional morality.

    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 known.”

    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.

    DISCLAIMER: Inchin Closer has created and distributed this content to help business owners as we feel it is in their interest. These are only suggested guidelines and are not meant to be taken as comprehensive measures or the law. Please also follow government guidelines to understand how to completely and safely resume work.
  • ~ By Charmaine Mirza

    This map was originally published by Gateway House. For the full report, visit

    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.


    #1: E-COMMERCE

    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 landscape.

    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

    #2: FINTECH

    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 – 4


    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 in India.

    NCR – 6; BANGALORE – 6; MUMBAI – 5


    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.


    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.


    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 in China.”

    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.

  • ~ By Charmaine Mirza

    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.

    5G readiness by country. Telecom analysis firm Analysys Mason was commissioned by U.S. wireless industry organization CTIA to rank countries with developed wireless markets for 5G readiness. (Courtesy of CTIA)

    Reconfiguration Rat-rograde?

    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 impacting exactly.

    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 manufacturing units.

    But for the time being Trump’s sanctions might just be Johnson’s redemption:

    “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.

  • Which tech passport has the most global muscle?

    ~ By Charmaine Mirza

    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 beginnings).

    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.

    Power Play:

    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 – take note!)

    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.
    • China 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.

  • ~ By Kavita Ogale

    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 century together

    India & China amount to 20% of the world’s GDP. Trade between the neighbours is expected to touch US$100 billion this year.
    Inchin Closer takes a look at how trade between India and China has grown over the past 20 years.

    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 China.

    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.

  • ~ By Kavita Ogale

    A brief glimpse at how electric vehicles mobility is charging the future of India and China’s road transportation

    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.

    The 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- the secret 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 global market. 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 government-related fleets.

    In 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.

    Meanwhile, 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.

  • ~ By Charmaine Mirza

    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 realm.

    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.

    Filling pockets; money matters

    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.

  • This could be the mantra for Diwali or Chinese New Year.

    ~ By Kavita Ogale

    Fire crackers ward off evil in both India and China

    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 decades.

    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.

    So big 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.

  • ~ By Inchin Closer staff

    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.

    Chinese President Xi Jinping will have an informal meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the 11th & 12th of October in Mamallapuram, East India. This will be the 2nd informal meeting between the leaders. The first was held last year in Wuhan, China.  

    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 festive season.

    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.

  • ~ By Kavita Ogale

    How India and China are gearing up for the only war that counts

    The 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.

  • ~ By Charmaine Mirza

    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%.

    Sino-Pak Seduction:

    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 constructive action.

    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. 

    Kashmir. Cornered:  

    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.

    Post-Partum Pakistan:

    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 program.

    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.

  • ~ By Kavita Ogale

    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.

    In a 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.

    An 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.

    With 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.

    Huawei 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.

    China 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.

    For 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 involve.

    With 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.

    Huawei’s 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 year.

    With 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.

    India 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.

  • Is India “Looking Further East” Beyond China?

    ~ By Charmaine Mirza

    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.

    South Headwinds:

    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 the SCMP.

    Techie Trade:

    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 Times.

    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.

    It’s Electrifying!

    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.

  • ~ By Kavita Ogale

    For the latest list of 24 Confucius Institutes that closed in the US – click here

    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.

  • ~ By Charmaine Mirza

    What does the Year of the Pig hold for India-China bilateral trade?

    Will the pig stay at home, eat roast beef or have none?

    Inchin Closer takes a look.

    Image credit: Economic Times


    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.

  • ~ By Kavita Ogale

    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 estimate).

    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.

  • ~ By Charmaine Mirza

    China’s planned One Belt One Road Initiative

    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.


    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?


    India 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.

    After 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.

    But is 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.

    While 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 medium.


    The 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.

    The Lake 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.

    Cooperating 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 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.

    India is 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. Power 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.

  • ~ By Kavita Ogale

    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.

    Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi

    Prime 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 Party (BJP).

    Wearing 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.

    Of course, 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.

    President 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.

    Modi’s 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 progress.

  • ~ By Nazia Vasi; as published in China India Dialogue

    Andhadhun or 调音师 in Mandarin has grossed $ 31.57 mn in China within 2 weeks of its release.

    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 events.

    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 exchange.


    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 production capabilities.

    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.

    5D  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 non-violent means.


    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 India.

    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 rituals.


    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 research company.

    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.

  • ~By Charmaine Mirza

    SourceL FinTech in China: An Introduction

    ‘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.


    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 consumer economy.


    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.

    In  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 more affordable.

    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.

  • ~ By Charmaine Mirza

    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 them?

    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 FinTech space.


    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 Tencent-backed Meituan-Dianping.”


    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.


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  • ~ By Charmaine Mirza

    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.

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  • ~ By Charmaine Mirza

    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.

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  • ~ by Charmaine Mirza

    “…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?

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  • inchin leadersAs 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.

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  • BATWe 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.

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  • wagesAs 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.

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  • herbal-formula-2 ~ By Charmaine Mirza

    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.

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  • ~ By Charmaine Mirza

    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.

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  • jaitley + guoliIndian 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.

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