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Is Modi govt playing the China game right? An ET Online Survey captures India’s reaction

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Regardless of whether China blinks first or India does in the attempt to stare each other down at the border, Modi government’s muscular approach seems to have garnered a great many fans across the country.

In ET Online’s recently conducted Mood of the Nation survey, as many as 43.8% of the respondents found no fault with the border tactics Modi government has currently adopted to pay China back in the same coin.

The findings of the survey reflect the anti-China sentiments running high in India ever since 20 Indian armymen lost their lives in a deadly June conflict that also reportedly led to significant casualties (still officially unconfirmed how many) on the Chinese side.

Tensions are still on the rise at the India-China border after the first shot in 45 years was fired during a forward manoeuvre in the Chushul sub-sector. Meanwhile, the trans-Himalayan blame game has continued unabated with each side holding the other responsible for the resumption of border bloodshed.

As the two armies hunker down for a bitter winter at forward positions, the gloves have finally come off and India no longer appears willing to give Chinese companies a free run despite the Communist regime’s repeated transgressions at the border.

No more business as usual

In the backdrop of rising hostilities, India has already made it known that it will no longer be business as usual. Early this month, the government banned 118 more Chinese apps in a follow-up of the first round where 59 apps were banned. The latest ones to be banned also include popular mobile gaming app PUBG, besides those from Baidu, Tencent and Xiaomi.

Decoupling from ChinaET Online

The list includes CamCard Business Card Reader, WeChat reading, Tencent Weiyun, Baidu Express Edition among others. As for PUBG, the India ban is a massive blow. India, PUBG’s biggest market, had generated 175 million installs to date, or 24% of its total worldwide downloads.

The latest round of the app ban comes close on the heels of a tightening of some customs rules for goods manufactured in China and routed through Indian ports. Together, these developments have marked the onset of a new, uncertain period for businesses amid stronger calls for severing trade ties with China.

In the poll, as many as 38.8% of the participants think it is possible for India to sever all business links with China. Almost 22% categorically say it is not possible because interlinkages are too deep. 20.5% respondents think that although it could be possible, it will hurt India. 18.8% believe that such a scenario is out of the question in the foreseeable future.

Razor’s edge

The last time firearms were used at the border was in 1975. On that occasion, an Assam Rifles patrol had been ambushed by Chinese soldiers in Arunachal, and four Indian troopers had been killed.

This time, according to reports, more than 3,000 Indian troops are well-entrenched at tactical places at altitudes 15,000 feet. From these vantage positions, troopers have a clear sight of troop and tank movement on the Chinese side.

Due to an understanding between the two sides, these tactical positions had remained unoccupied since the 1962 war. But as China steadfastly refuses to vacate the stretches they grabbed during the June melee, this is a pre-emptive move by the Indian side to prevent the same thing from happening at these tactical positions.

With the situation now poised on a razor’s edge, not many people are ready to view China in a favourable light anymore, the survey findings revealed.

Modi muscularET Online

In the survey, those who gave Modi government full marks for its response to Chinese aggression vastly outnumbered those who thought that India’s approach was “more rhetoric, less action”. Just 8.5% of the over 16,000 people polled think that Modi government’s response to Chinese aggression was not up to the mark.

Almost a quarter of the survey respondents said that Modi government was doing the best it could to tackle the Chinese threat. This is in keeping with the views of experts who acknowledge that China has a relative advantage — both economic and military — over India, a factor that emboldens it to pursue an adventurous border policy.

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