The Indian Embassy in Beijing on Tuesday defended its issuing of a second advisory directed at the trading hub of Yiwu after an article published by a Chinese newspaper hit out at the embassy for “slandering” a whole city on account of a few disputes involving defaulting traders.
The article published in the Global Times, a newspaper known for its nationalistic views, argued that the three traders recently illegally detained and abused by Chinese suppliers bore responsibility for the incidents. The commentary was authored by Wu Dahong, a professor at the China University of Political Science and Law.
Mr. Wu, who is from Yiwu, said businesses in the city had already suffered a huge loss of 165 million yuan (Rs.135 crore) when an Indian went “absconding without payment”. This was before another case in December in which two traders, Deepak Raheja and Shyamsunder Agarwal, were abducted after the Yemeni and Indian owners of their trading firm fled owing 10 million yuan (Rs.8.2 crore).
“Based on these accounts, it seems obvious that the Indians brought these troubles on themselves,” he said. “It is them, not the Yiwu business community, who should be held accountable for these disputes.”
“Those Indian merchants who deliberately don't pay for their goods betray the trust of their Yiwu counterparts and damage the interests of the sellers,” he added. “It is understandable that the sellers may adopt some radical actions to demand payment, given the potential damage to their business.”
The Indian Embassy in a statement posted on its website on Tuesday said it was “extraordinary that a professor of law finds ‘understandable' what he himself describes as solving ‘the issue by force' that includes ‘illegal detaining' of Indians”.
The statement said the “prevalence of such views” made “more compelling” the case for the trade advisories, which warned Indians of the dangers of doing business in Yiwu, an important hub in Zhejiang province.
“The professor from Yiwu,” the statement added, “thinks that ‘radical actions' are a solution to trade disputes. Others like us expect, perhaps optimistically, the rule of law.”
In the article, Mr. Wu said the Indian authorities had “chosen to ignore the true nature of the disputes” and had left “the impression that the people in Yiwu are rude”. “The India embassy warned it was dangerous to do business in Yiwu, but they didn't mention the danger is caused by Indian merchants themselves,” he said.
He also warned that the advisory would harm the interests of the more than thousand Indians who are reported to be trading in Yiwu. “There are over 1,000 Indian merchants in Yiwu, and they are heavily dependent on the local market,” he said. “Speaking for crooks and fraudsters will only trigger more prejudice against Indians here, and ultimately hurt the interests of honest Indian businessperson in Yiwu.”