Indian groups urge boycott of Chinese goods

Masood Azhar

NEW DELHI: India said yesterday it was “disappointed” by China again delaying a bid to blacklist the leader of a Pakistan-based militant group that claimed a massive suicide bombing in Kashmir last month. The blast on February 14 killed 40 Indian troops and triggered tit-for-tat air strikes and an aerial dogfight in the most serious bust-up in years between New Delhi and Islamabad.

Although the suicide bomber was native to the part of Kashmir that Indian controls, the attack was claimed by Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), one of several militant groups based in Pakistan. China on Wednesday put on hold a request by Britain, France and the United States to add the leader of JeM, Masood Azhar, on a UN sanctions blacklist which would subject him to a global travel ban, an assets freeze and an arms embargo.
China-an all-weather ally of Pakistan which has blocked three similar moves-said it needed more time to examine the sanctions request targeting Azhar, and asked for a technical hold which could last up to nine months. In a statement, the Indian foreign ministry said it “was disappointed by the outcome”, adding it would continue to pursue all avenues to make sure “terrorist leaders who are involved in heinous attacks on our citizens are brought to justice”.

China has blocked three previous attempts at the committee on sanctions against Al-Qaeda and IS-linked groups to blacklist the JeM leader. The group itself was added to the UN terror list in 2001. China’s decision was the top news across Indian media yesterday, with the Indian Express headlining its report: “Jaish chief gets Great Wall of China”. India’s main opposition leader Rahul Gandhi used the opportunity to mock Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is seeking re-election in a national ballot starting next month.

“Weak Modi is scared of Xi. Not a word comes out of his mouth when China acts against India,” Gandhi tweeted, referring to Chinese President Xi Jinping. Regional rivals China and India have longstanding territorial disputes but Modi and Xi have tried to patch up ties, banking on their personal chemistry to smoothen differences. China’s move on Azhar also triggered a storm of anti-Chinese sentiment on Twitter with #BoycottChinaProduct attracting hundreds of tweets. China is India’s biggest trading partner, but the trade imbalance is skewed heavily in favor of Beijing.

Boycott of Chinese goods
Meanwhile, an influential Hindu nationalist group and an Indian traders body called yesterday for a boycott of Chinese goods, to slap Beijing for blocking a move to put a Pakistani militant leader on a UN terrorist list following a suicide attack last month. Regarded by Pakistan as its most reliable friend, China has repeatedly thwarted efforts to implement UN sanctions against Masood Azhar, the founder of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), the group that claimed responsibility for the attack that killed 40 paramilitary police in Indian-controlled Kashmir.

The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), which represents 70 million traders, said it would burn Chinese goods on March 19 to “teach a lesson” to China. “The time has come when China should suffer due to its proximity with Pakistan,” CAIT said in a statement. “The CAIT has launched a national campaign to boycott Chinese goods among the trading community of the country, calling the traders not to sell or buy Chinese goods.”

The United States, Britain and France asked the Security Council’s Islamic State and Al-Qaeda sanctions committee to subject the Jaish leader to an arms embargo, travel ban and asset freeze. But China a placed a “technical hold” on the proposal, saying it needed more time to consider, using the same stalling tactic it has used in the past. Mounting impatience with Beijing’s stance was evident on social media yesterday as #BoycottChineseProducts was the second-highest trending hashtag on Twitter in India.

Similar campaigns in the past have proved ineffectual. China is India’s second biggest trading partner. Chinese products – from mobile phones made by companies such as Xiaomi Inc to toys – are ubiquitous in India and trade between the countries grew to nearly $90 billion in the year ending March 2018. The leader of the Swadeshi Jagran Manch, the economic wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a Hindu nationalist group with close ties to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), also called for a boycott of Chinese goods.- Agencies