Ananth Krishnan

But government responds cautiously

BEIJING: Chinese industry groups have hit out at the reported restrictions on the import of Chinese-made telecom equipment, accusing India of using security concerns as a pretext for trade protectionism.

The Chinese government, however, has responded cautiously to the latest brewing trade spat between the neighbours, calling on both countries to create “a sound environment for trade and investment” and to work together to meet the $60 billion trade target for this year.

The restrictions on Chinese equipment were “discriminatory”, according to He Weiwen, an executive council member of the China Society for Word Trade Organisation Studies.

“India cannot reject Chinese imports citing security reasons. An import ban is warranted only if the Chinese imports are hurting Indian companies,” he told the official China Daily newspaper in an interview.

The State-run newspaper also quoted the head of a prominent law firm in Beijing, which handles trade remedies, as saying the move was “pure protectionism”. “The Chinese side must seek consultations and a proper way out,” said Fu Donghui, Managing Director of Allbright Law.

The Chinese government's response, however, was more guarded. Asked about the restrictions, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu avoided a direct reply, instead praising the growth in bilateral trade between the two countries.

“China and India should be cooperative partners of mutual benefit and win-win outcome,” Ms. Jiang said. “The two countries are exerting joint efforts to reach a trade volume of $ 60 billion by 2010. It takes efforts of both sides to expand trade and enhance cooperation. We believe trade between China and India enjoys a bright prospect.”

Asked to comment on the specific case, Ms. Jiang referred the question to the Ministry of Commerce. The Ministry of Commerce, however, could not be reached for a comment.