As India and China continue to face off at the Sikkim border, schools in India have started encouraging students and families to boycott Chinese-made school supplies and other goods.
The strongest advocates of the boycott come from the Mumbai Principals’ Association (MPA), which represents around 1600 to 1700 schools following the state board curriculum in the Mumbai metropolitan area. They claim that a boycott would not only teach China a lesson, but also would inspire patriotism and support for domestic industries in schools.
“Students must be aware about problems the country is facing. Stationery, like pens, compass boxes and erasers are all made in China. Even if we are able to hurt the economic gains China makes through our country by a little, it will mean we are doing our bit,” said Prashant Redij of the MPA. “It is the schools which must instill patriotism among students.”
Although he believes that boycotting is a small and simple way of showing support to troops at the border, Redji explains that schools will not be forcing children and families to reject Chinese goods. “There won’t be any ban on Chinese products. Rather, we will make an appeal to the parents and ask them to think about this issue,” he added.
The campaign will encourage the boycott by sending out messages through apps and appealing to families with “patriotic ideals,” according to the Times of India, but, just how much effect could it really have on China?
Relations between the two countries have been more than a little tense lately. Another call for a boycott of Chinese goods came last year after China refused to recognize Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar as a United Nations designated terrorist.
Of course, China is no stranger to boycott movements of its own, often rejecting foreign products and even fast food chains when international relations go south. Earlier this year, when South Korea began moving forward with THAAD, a missile defense system strongly opposed by the Chinese government, Chinese citizens began boycotting Korean conglomerate Lotte Group, tourists stopped going to South Korea and schools even instructed schoolchildren not to buy Korean snacks.
Back in 2010, the country even went so far as to boycott Norwegian fish imports after the Nobel Committee in Oslo awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo. Last year, a visit by the Dalai Lama to Mongolia prompted China to temporarily freeze relations with its northern neighbor and block Mongolian trucks from entering the country.
Now, India and China face a different kind of conflict. Troops from both countries are stationed along the Sikkim border, locked in a tense, four-month-long standoff.
Nirmala Sithram, the Indian Minister of State for the Ministry of Commerce & Industry, explained that it would be impossible to completely block trade with China due to regulations set by the World Trade Organization. “When we cannot block imports from that country. We could impose anti-dumping duties, but there are established ways to go about it and dumping has to be proved,” she said.
But well-known geostrategist Brahma Challaney believes that trade, not the military, is India’s biggest weapon against China. In an interview with Business Today, he said that he wants to take a page from China’s boycotting strategy and give the country a taste of its own medicine.
By Caroline Roy
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