By Choekyi Lhamo
DHARAMSHALA, Jan. 26: Despite the ongoing border tension between India and China, imports from China reached nearly $100 billion for the first time in 2021, a record surge for trade exchange between the two Asian giants. The 2020 Galwan valley incident where 20 Indian troops lost their lives sparked numerous debates in the Indian population about the boycott of Chinese goods, followed by the Indian government’s ban on scores of popular Chinese apps including WeChat, PubG, Tik Tok among others.
According to China’s General Administration of Customs (GAC), exports to India reached $97.52 billion in 2021, while the two-way trade exchange touched $125.66 billion. The biggest jump has been seen in the shipment of electric and electronic goods including smart phones, and a wide range of industrial and pharmaceutical raw materials. Despite the worsening political relations with China, India is yet to decrease its reliance on the so-called ‘factory of the world’ i.e. China.
The Chinese state-run Global Times in a report also noted the economic dependency of India on Chinese market, “An increase in China-India trade in 2021, which reached a record high, surpassing $125 billion, amid bilateral tensions, is just another piece of proof that New Delhi is unable to reduce its dependence on the Chinese market.”
According to India’s Department of Commerce, India’s imports from China reached $87.5 billion, whereas bilateral trade stood at $114.30 billion, 10% lower than the data published by the Chinese government. India’s trade deficit with China in 2021, according to the provisional figures, stood at $61 billion compared to $39 billion in 2020.
“India’s overall relationship with China seems to mirror the US-China relationship, in which economic and political relations have their own distinct dynamics,” economist and Professor Biswajit Dhar from JNU told The Print.
The border standoff between the Indian and Chinese troops erupted on May 5, 2020 following a violent clash in the areas near Pangong Lake at the Indo-Tibet border. Both sides have enhanced their deployment by rushing in tens of thousands of soldiers and heavy weaponry at the site. As for the de-escalation process, the two sides held the 14 round talks on January 12 to resolve the standoff in the remaining areas and also agreed to hold a new round of talks soon. While the stern posturing against China by New Delhi diplomatically have managed optics, observers say that its trade numbers with China suggest a different story.