India has in recent months taken some initial steps against predatory Chinese capital and technologies in its economy. Without quite naming China, the Indian government has both tweaked FDI rules to limit acquisition of Indian companies without government approval and banned a few score apps of Chinese origin on national security considerations. These are welcome decisions that have long been called for and should not have waited for either a pandemic or tensions on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China.
There are several ways in which the coronavirus outbreak in China has consequences for the Indian economy, directly and indirectly.
One, the lockdowns in Chinese cities – many of which are economic hubs with populations and GDPs equivalent to small countries – affects production and supply worldwide given how integrated China is into the global economy. India is likely to suffer, too – more than half of India’s imports in 19 categories come from China according to a State Bank of India report and 14% of its overall imports. One of India’s top export sectors, pharmaceuticals, for example, depends heavily for key starting material, intermediates and active pharma ingredients from China.
Both the pharma sector and the Indian economy in general have faced a tough year and were only just beginning to show signs of recovery which are now likely to be delayed due to the outbreak in China. The spread of the coronavirus is pushing the world economy toward its worst performance since the 2008 financial crisis. And while the Indian government has declared itself ready with steps to ameliorate the effects on domestic industry, its record so far is not encouraging.
The island nation of Taiwan, claimed by China as a ‘renegade province’, has just held its presidential elections.
If Unites States politics has been riven in recent years by questions of Russian involvement and interference, the Chinese have been at this for a very long time in Taiwanese politics, trying to push Taiwan’s unification with China and conducting disinformation campaigns in both traditional and social media on the island.
To counter Chinese-sponsored fake news and disinformation on its platform, Facebook had to launch a ‘war room’ in Taiwan on the eve of the presidential elections working closely with the country’s election commission, law enforcement agencies, political parties, and the presidential candidates themselves.
In India, entities as AltNews and Boom, for example, do their best to counter the massive volume of misinformation that floats through WhatsApp groups and other forms of social media in India, but the brazenness with which politicians spout blatant lies or contradict themselves suggests that these efforts need to be widespread and more thorough.