China-India

By Anil K Gupta and Haiyan Wang

Chinese president Xi Jinping’s visit to India this week will likely be the most significant meeting between the leaders of China and India since Rajiv Gandhi’s visit to Beijing in 1988. Indeed, India’s leading business daily has gone so far as to suggest that Xi will bring along with him commitments to invest $100bn over the next five years. But while ties between India and China are growing quickly, such estimates remain highly unrealistic and risk saddling this burgeoning relationship with unrealistic expectations.

An article in the Economic Times newspaper quotes China’s consul-general in Mumbai: “On a conservative estimate, I can say that we will commit investments of over $100bn or thrice the investments committed by Japan during our President Xi Jinping’s visit next week. These will be made in setting up of industrial parks, modernization of railways, highways, ports, power generation, distribution and transmission, automobiles, manufacturing, food processing and textile industries.” 

India’s policy makers clamped down on gold imports last year, repeatedly hiking duties and introducing quantitative restrictions which squeezed supplies and pumped up premiums in the local market.

As a result China knocked India off the top spot to become the world’s biggest gold market in 2013, according to research by the World Gold Council (and as beyondbrics predicted a while before). What’s surprising is that demand for the yellow metal is still growing rapidly in India, where love for gold is deeply ingrained in culture and religion. 

Huawei, the Chinese telecoms equipment group, has long been blacklisted in the US on suspicion of stealing trade secrets from local companies and posing a wider security threat.

Now the group is under investigation in India, following allegations that it hacked state-run telecoms carrier Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL). 

From flash ‘Guchi’ trainers to fashionable ‘Caiwen Kelai’ boxers, Mumbai’s popular Chor Bazaar (meaning “thieves’ market”) can fulfil all your luxury desires. Often for less than Rs100 ($1.62) a pop.

India’s market for counterfeit luxury goods is expanding at a compound annual growth rate of as much as 45 per cent, according to a new report from the the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India. But some analysts reckon the numbers themselves lack the ring of authenticity. 

So far, China has been the emerging market worth watching in the art world. Now, the big boys are getting serious about India, too.

Christie’s said this week it would hold its first auction in Mumbai in December. 

Salman Khurshid, India’s foreign minister, is back from a trip to China last week, happy to see the end of a tense stand-off over a long-running border dispute. Settling that issue will re-open the way for a planned visit by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to India and allow the two countries to concentrate on the big topic on Khurshid’s agenda: trade.

But here, too, relations between the region’s big powers are not entirely friendly. 

Cheap Chinese exports have long flooded the Indian market. But – in a couple of small sectors – it seems the tables are turning.

First, Samsung announced it would be taking a phone designed for India to China. And now, Yamaha, the Japanese two-wheeler maker, has decided to produce the world’s cheapest motorbike in India and export it to other markets, including China. 

On Wednesday, the streets of India will be filled with men and women, boys and girls, flinging multi-coloured powder and water over one another as they celebrate the beginning of spring. The festival of Holi will end with stained carpets and hot baths, as people return home to spend time with loved ones – and probably drink bhang, a traditional brew brimming with cannabis.

It is a distinctively Indian sort of mayhem. Doesn’t sound like something the straight-laced Chinese could get involved with, does it? It is, though. 

Indian power company Lanco’s deal to secure up to $2bn in funding from China Development Bank is obviously good news for the heavily indebted group. But are other struggling Indian conglomerates likely to be able to tap similar Chinese funding, and should India worry if they do? 

In the second spot of good news for Indian billionaire Anil Ambani in the past two weeks, his Reliance Power received approval from Chinese regulators for $1.1bn in loans from mainland banks.

The loans, from Bank of China, China Development Bank Corp, and Export Import Bank of China, were announced in December 2010, and meant to finance the purchase of equipment for the Sasan power plant. Those loans were approved by the Reserve Bank of India last October, and finally received Chinese approval last week. 

Anyone familiar with the name of Humayun Shahryar will know he is not a big believer in emerging markets. Take his views on China: “The whole soft-landing/hard-landing thing is a non-argument. China is crash-landing as we speak.”

But the founder and chief executive of Auvest, a Cyprus-based hedge fund, does have faith in his native India, which he reckons is next in line for China-style growth – but only after it’s been through a lot of pain.