Self-damaging Antagonism

India bans imports of Chinese power equipment

6 July, 2020 12:00 AM printer

NEW DELHI: India’s move to deter power equipment imports from China is nothing but a fresh instance of the South Asian economy’s lapsing into self-damaging antagonism against its major trading partner amid simmering border tensions, Chinese experts said on Saturday. India will not allow power equipment imports from China amid the border standoff, the nation’s power minister R K Singh announced Friday during a virtual press conference, according to Indian news agency Press Trust of India (PTI), report agencies.

Singh also cited malware concerns. “There could be malware or trojan horse in those (imports from China) which they can activate remotely (to cripple our power systems),” read the PT report.

India relies heavily on Chinese products for its power equipment imports. Chinese imports accounted for 21,000 crore rupees ($2.81 billion) of India’s total power equipment imports of 71,000 crore rupees in the year ending March 2019, according to Singh.

The Chinese equipment suppliers or power network operators potentially impacted by India’s move include Harbin Electric, Dongfang Electric, Shanghai Electric and Sifang Automation.

The Chinese offerings underpin India’s attempt to overhaul its poor infrastructure, which has become a stumbling block for its “Make in India” initiative.

The companies couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.

India’s indigenous push for local alternatives that are more expensive yet less environmentally friendly to Chinese equipment and parts would only end up putting a heavier burden on its economy, both financially and environmentally, analysts said. India is dependent on Chinese companies for sales of Flue Gas Desulphurisation (FGD) units, the installment of which at Indian coal-fired plants enables reduced sulphur dioxide emissions.

China has been in the leading position of the world power equipment, including extra-high voltage systems and power grid construction, while India is a large developing country with a very high demand for electricity, said Xiang Ligang, director-general of the Beijing-based Information Consumption Alliance on Saturday.

“In this case, it is very unlikely for India to catch up or even replace Chinese equipment any time soon - not even three to five years,” Xiang said.

“The West can’t compete with China in this sector because their costs are too high and their efficiency is too low,” Xiang said, adding that this also applies to India.