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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
What does the Year of the Pig hold for India-China bilateral
Will the pig stay at home, eat roast beef or have none?
Inchin Closer takes a look.
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.
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
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.
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.
MARITIME SECURITY & POLICY:
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?
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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 CHINA BELT & ROAD
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
FILM AND TELEVISION COOPERATION
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
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.
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
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
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
SINGING IN CHINESE
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
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.
‘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.
WHO’S GOT GAME?
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
前几天，我还提到如果你初到印度一定会因为时常在大街上遇到热闹欢腾的人群而感到好奇和新鲜。这不，我却忘了告诉你除了节日和婚礼外，这次你可能是撞上了在印度也是频繁发生的：The big “E”- Elections (选举)。 印度是个多党派的国家，除了国家级政党，各地区还有大大小小的地方政党。信不信由你，由于各地选举时间交错，所以你在游历印度时说不定您就不知不觉碰上了为选举造势的各类活动：小到村县级政府选举，再到市政府州政府选举，大到像几月前才刚刚结束的全国大选，可谓百选不厌！ 如果这两天你身在马哈拉施特拉邦（马邦），恭喜你，你有机会一睹印度选民的热情和对民主的疯狂了。几大政党的荧幕大战（电视推广，政绩辩论，施政方向等）， 各选区的集会演讲，车队沿街广播宣传，大街小巷挂满的标语彩旗，真是各出奇招掳获民心。 10月15日，当我在写这篇博文的时候，马哈拉施特拉邦这个印度西部最大州的人民终于迎来了最终的公投。从早上7点一直持续到晚上6点，选民们可以自行到住家附近的指定地点投票，根据自己的意愿选出执政党组建新的政府。“民主”一向是印度人民最引以为豪的，而且印度也是世界公认的最大并充满活力的民主国家，来自社会各阶层和种姓的人都有权投票选择。为了体现对公投的支持，大多数企业公司都会提早几个小时下班，让员工可以有时间去投票。有些企业更是放假一天可见大家对此的重视。 Nike Darwin Goedkoop Read more
如果你经常往来于印度或是长期定居于此，那么随时随地都能撞见欢庆的人流对已习惯快节奏生活的你而言仍充满好奇，也会放慢脚步一探究竟。一年里大多数的时间印度人好像都在庆祝，而狂欢的缘由无非是婚礼或是节日。灯火通明，绚丽服饰，花团锦簇，当然还有不可或缺的舞蹈，都成了横跨印度不同省邦及宗教信徒欢度节日的象征。 要是这几天你还在纳闷为什么到处张灯结彩，歌舞升平，哈哈，那是因为我们能歌善舞的印度朋友们又在庆祝了－NavRatri (Nava-9 & Ratri-夜)。这次可是要接连狂欢9个晚上！在当今还是男权至上的印度社会，就算是他们供奉的神灵也已男性为主，九夜节却是其中少有的专属于女神们的节日，因此也称之为“圣母节”。在这十天九夜里，每天人们都会参加某位女神的礼拜，歌颂她的母性力量并祈求她的保佑。 Nike Air Max 90 CamouflagDame 这段时间是一年中普通印度劳动妇女最为享受的一段时光。摆脱繁重的家务，在工作一天后可以穿上她们的节日盛装为她们所敬重的女神们载歌载舞直至通宵达旦。也许一生中大部分时间她们只是扮演着配角，可是这九夜她们确是真正的主角。这个节日不仅象征着女性力量和杰出贡献，多少也是她们在心灵上寻求女权平等的一种慰籍。 Read more
Chinese companies in India’s financial hub of Mumbai are gradually coming together to form what will be an Association of Chinese Companies. Similar to New Delhi’s Chindia Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which represents over 110 Chinese firms in India, the association will lobby for common rights within India, will cooperate with Indian associations and will share best practices honed from across sectors, over years. Reflecting the Indian Association in Shanghai, a group of like minded individuals and companies who gather for business and social events, in China’s financial capital, the Chinese associations are only open to membership by Chinese companies.
In developing economies where freight is fraught and torrid trade disputes stretch on tirelessly, it becomes important for companies from one nation to club together to understand their host nation better and gain a sense of brotherhood in an alien land. While our bilateral trade might be Inchin towards the US$100 billion mark sooner than expected, there is yet so much we need to understand about each other. Our governments might shake hands in the capital and yet point the barrel of a gun on our borders. Our markets are keen to explode into each other, take advantage of our synergies and make the most of our billion plus populations, yet creating a body of commonness is key.
After concrete conversations and pristine promises to open markets further to each other during Premier Li Keqiang’s visit to New Delhi and Mumbai last week, India and China this week landed on softer territory with cultural exchanges, a meeting of the minds and philosophical ponderings. The two nations will jointly hold a conference entitled From Tagore to Mo Yan: The Universality of the One at Tongji University in Shanghai.
Presided over by Padma Bhushan Tan Chung, the defacto authority on Sino-Indian Culture, and disciple of Rabindranath Tagore, who influenced 20th century China, the two day conference will discuss the arts, literature and changing thought processes of the East. Highlighting the Oriental civilization, participants will speak on the Wests views on Asia, Chinese Culture going global and the relevance of Tagore today. Drawing parallels between Tagore and Mo Yan’s literature and subsequent impact, the conference will throw light on the relation between the two countries – classics and literature.
Building on softer relations between China and India, the two nations have come a long way – from Yoga and Tai Chi to bollywood in China and Chinese cuisine flourishing in India. Further aroused by the Indian hospitality industry aggressively entering the Chinese tourism space, language and culture exchanges have enlarged. Although there are five time more Indians travelling to China than Chinese in India, the number of flights and passengers has see a steady upward curve in the past few years. The Indians have always been curious of their neighbours behind the bamboo curtain and of late an increasing number of Chinese too have a piqued interest in their southern soulmates. Nobody can deny the innate connections between our two peoples, and thats exactly what both governments are pinning their hopes on too. A better understanding between Indians and Chinese will not only lead to greater business ties and add value for both countries but will also elevate Asia and the bilateral nexus we share.
Lets strengthen our soft issues to avoid a hard landing.