India recently banned 59 Chinese apps, further pushing its economic nationalism. Western media reports said that the move may obstruct China’s high-tech development, which is quite far-fetched and absurd. The measure won’t cast a shadow on the Chinese high-tech sector, nor bring any serious damage to Chinese firms on the list.
For starters, the Chinese firms maintain most of their business in China, one of the largest consumption markets in the world, where their profits mainly come from. To crack down on Chinese high-tech development by banning its apps in an underdeveloped Indian market does not hold water at all.
Surpassing China has been a desirable target for India in recent years. Taking technology and the internet industry as an example, the country has established tech hubs like Bangalore, but it has not fostered competitive domestic products, and Chinese internet products have gained nearly half of the market. Meanwhile, Chinese products have seen wide usage among Indian customers and contributed to the development of the country’s society. Indian customers will bear direct losses after the ban.
Meanwhile, the Indian market does not have strong relevancy with other markets, and will not trigger any chain effects since irrationally blocking foreign investment is not in accordance with the national interest of other countries and regions, especially when the pandemic continues ripping across the world. In fact, Southeast Asian countries have shown an active and welcome attitude toward Chinese investment.
In addition to protectionism, the ban was more of a gesture to show its loyalty to the US. The world’s largest economy has made all-out efforts to suppress China’s development, from restricting exports of certain high-tech products to cracking down on Chinese firms and forcing other countries to stand against 5G cooperation with China. However, with rounds of lobbying and threats, the US has failed to set up a united front to crush Huawei and other Chinese firms. The development path of technology is a main theme for the world and will not be strangled by certain forces’ unilateralism.
Although Chinese high-tech firms have made great progress in developing across the world, they are still facing challenges. It is critical for them to keep developing their core technologies and strengthening competitiveness worldwide.
The author is a Beijing-based veteran tech industry observer.