Traders at Jagadish Market, a popular bazaar for smartphones in Hyderabad, are worried that their huge stocks of Chinese mobiles might go unsold this festive season, including Dussehra and Diwali, as a viral campaign to boycott Chinese goods gathers steam on social media to protest against China’s tacit support to Pakistan following the Uri terror attacks. “If you have any concern and respect for our martyr soldiers, please don’t buy Chinese goods this festival season”, is the message that has gone viral on social media.

People are also furious with China’s plans to construct a dam across a tributary of Brahmaputra river in Tibet so as to decrease the flow of water into India. The Chinese move came apparently as retaliation to India’s perceived move to review the five decades old Indus Waters Treaty that advantages Pakistan. 

The anti-China campaign is expected to hit the sale of both Chinese mobiles and Diwali crackers, with market losses expected to be in the tune of around Rs 1,000 crore, according to sources in the Federation of Telangana Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FTCCI) who spoke to The Sunday Guardian this week.

The social media campaign has targeted Chinese made mobiles specifically. Thousands of shops are already feeling the heat, with a drastic dip in sales compared to last year. Costly mobiles above Rs 20,000 comprise 15% of the market, while 60% sales occur in the range below Rs 8,000. Chinese mobiles account for around 35% of the budget smartphones in the country and the same is above 50% in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, industry sources explained. This is because of the early entry of Chinese mobile manufactures into the South Indian market, in 2007.

Chinese mobile brands such as Lenovo, Asus, Coolpad, Gionee, Huawei and Vivo, all of which were witnessing roaring sales until about a month ago have taken a sharp beating from 1 October, said a trader in Secunderabad’s major mobile phones market, on the condition of anonymity. Along with these Chinese brands, two Taiwanese brands have also taken a hit, Acer and HTC.

After top end US brands like Apple, Dell, Motorola and HP and South Korea’s Samsung and LG, the middle segment mostly comprises Indian mobiles. Messages are doing the rounds urging people to buy only Indian mobiles—Micromax, HCL, Lava, XOLO, Intex, Videocon and Karbonn, resulting in a spurt in their sales, sources confined.

The campaign against Chinese mobiles might even benefit other countries’ mobile brands such as Sony, Toshiba and Panasonic (from Japan) and Nokia (Finland), Blackberry (Canada) and Philips from Netherlands, sources said.

This Diwali might turn out inauspicious for the Chinese not only in mobile phone sales, but also in the multi-million crackers business. Hyderabad is one of the major markets for crackers in the country, with an estimated sale of around Rs 3,000 crore in just one month during the festival. Of this, one fourth of the amount comes from the sale of Chinese crackers, while half of it is because of the Sivakasi hub in Tamil Nadu. “People specifically ask and buy Chinese crackers as they are attractive and cheaper,” said M. Shaym Sunder Prasad, Hyderabad fireworks traders’ association president. 

The social media campaign against Chinese mobiles and crackers has achieved what Union government’s concerted bid to cut down Chinese imports could not early this year. While replying to a debate in Parliament in April, Union Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that the WTO rules would not allow India to ban Chinese imports totally.

India, for long, has been complaining that Chinese imports such as mobiles, crackers and milk products have fallen below safety and standard levels, but to no avail. Some states like Delhi and Madhya Pradesh have imposed restrictions on the sale of Chinese crackers for their sound levels and lack of safety standards.

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