By Liu Zongyi Source: Global Times Published: 2020-12-21
In a recent report, Indian cyber security think tank the CyberPeace Foundation claims that millions of Indian e-commerce customers have been targeted by "Chinese hackers" during Indian festive months of October and November.
The think tank's founder even claimed "what's more alarming is the covert cyber warfare the Chinese entities are launching in India on a repeated basis," according to reports by Indian media outlets.
Against the backdrop of rising trade protectionism in India, "covert cyber warfare" hype feeds into the dangerous economic nationalism erupting in the South Asian country, serving New Delhi's continuous attempts to exclude Chinese products and investments from its market.
Given the COVID-19 pandemic's disruptive effect on global industrial supply chain and Trump's tariffs war against China, India tends to think that a big opportunity has come for its manufacturing sector, and Indian has decided to collaborate with Trump administration to contain China's rise. It also wants to attract multinational companies to transfer production capacity from China to India.
After the border clash at the Galwan Valley in June, India rolled out a series of provocative policies against China, fermenting anti-China sentiment among Indian public and intensified actions to drive away Chinese companies.
With its eyes fixed on supplanting China in economic scale, India has been closely collaborating with the US. From banning Chinese mobile apps to limiting Chinese investment, India has even surpassed Trump administration in cracking down on Chinese companies.
In e-commerce and telecom development, India clearly has a desire to become the world's digital hub. By cracking down on Chinese companies, India wants to take market shares from Chinese industry leaders.
The alleged "convert cyber warfare" is simply groundless accusations cooked up and hyped by the CyberPeace Foundation. The think tank claimed this round of e-commerce scam were from all domains registered in China, but given wide application of the proxy technology, it's hard to identify whether the entities are from domains in China or elsewhere.
Against the backdrop of the lingering China-India border deadlock, India's ill-intentioned hype is in the political purpose of escalating China-India tensions.
While cases of coronavirus in India have passed 10 million, the Indian economy keeps struggling as the pandemic slams many of its small businesses. In fact, Indian economy had tilted towards a downturn even before the pandemic hit the country.
Facing a distressful economic contraction, the New Delhi's policy is to decouple itself from major economies like China rather than to promote economic recovery by all means.
In its rejection to join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) that encompasses 15 countries and a GDP scale of 29 percent of the global economy, India is missing the opportunity to integrate in the Asia-Pacific industrial chain.
India's wrong-headed economic strategy is based on the incorrect judgment that the Trump's decoupling bid will push industrial supply chains out of China - the world's largest manufacturing center, and the pandemic could have accelerated the process.
Collaborating with Trump administration to contain China and push the global supply chain to move away from China, is built on the outdated zero-sum game mindset which is bound to fail. Holding to this wrong path, India may isolate its economy further and miss the precious opportunity to kick-start its economy.
If India excludes itself from multilateral mechanisms like the RCEP, it's also hard for it to reach high-level free trade agreements with the US and EU. Following the heels of Trump and use national security as a pretense to push economic decoupling from China is unwise and bound to fail.
The author is the secretary-general of the Research Center for China-South Asia Cooperation at Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, a visiting fellow of the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China.
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