5 reasons why some Indians don’t trust the Chinese

An Indian reader recently commented on one of my previous blog posts on Linkedin by simply stating – “The Chinese are cunning!”. Many uninformed Indians would readily echo this statement. In fact I am working on a presentation that seeks to explain what the average Indian thinks of the Chinese and why. These are my starting points -

1. Political – India and China have fought two wars over border disputes. Each country has depicted the other as the aggressor in these wars to its domestic constituents. China is also close to Pakistan, India’s enemy no.1.

2. Rapid change and opacity – China has undergone rapid changes in the last two decades. Indians who have never traveled to or lived in China are unable to visualize such rapid change since change in India is painfully slow and does not automatically translate to progress. China is also an inward looking society which makes it less transparent from a foreigner’s perspective. Hence, when an average Indian hears about the astonishing growth numbers emerging out of China the impulsive reaction is one of disbelief.

3. Perceived India Vs. China rivalry – When India and China started their respective economic reforms they were similarly placed in terms of several economic indicators. Since the trajectories of their progress have varied greatly, observers in the media and academia have exploited this to conjure up a rivalry between the two countries. The West has also found it convenient to picture India and China as rivals.

4. Institutional differences – The role played by institutions in politics, business and society vary greatly between the two countries. Nothing illustrates this point better than the role played by the government in business. In China the government is regarded as an ideal business partner which is the most influential trendsetter, innovator and investor in any industry both at home and abroad. On the other hand any business related association with the Indian government (except when it is a potential customer) is mostly viewed as a necessary obstacle. Indians understandingly find such role reversals bewildering and hence choose to view Chinese institutions from behind a veil of suspicion.

5.  Cheap, cheaper, cheapest – Every single town in India with a population of more than a few thousands boasts of a ‘China Bazaar’. In big cities they are found a dozen to the square mile. These bazaars can be anything from multi-storied buildings to a small section of a basement or even an empty corner of a construction site. They mostly sell plastic products, furniture and a host of assorted un-categorizable products. Prices are unbelievably low. The cost of any product is often less than the cost at which it can be transported from China to India. Unsurprisingly such products have a very short lifespan. Thus, “chinese quality” has acquired an indelible place in the diction of every Indian. For most Indians this is the only picture postcard message they receive from China. Again, suspicion and bewilderment are the only plausible reactions to this barrage of unbelievably cheap products from Alibaba’s cave.

A lot more can be said on each of these points. Perhaps in later blog posts. Meanwhile, feel free to add more points to this list.

(Later edit – Yes, this blog post has a provocative title and content. The idea is to encourage a positive discussion to help overcome these misconceptions. Without understanding reasons behind such misconceptions it is difficult to overcome them. Most of these misconceptions can be easily cured by more information exchange and people-to-people interaction. I have also edited the title to clarify that only ‘some’ Indians share these views.)

Posted in Being Indian in China, Doing Business in China, India Vs. China
14 Comments » for 5 reasons why some Indians don’t trust the Chinese
  1. Vincent says:

    It is knowledgeable viewpoint and useful for me to learn some differences opinion between chinese and indians.


  2. Instead of letting know why of the lack of trust of the Indians toward the Chinese, I believe that the real issue to discuss is what is the reason the Indian take so long to make changes or adjustments.
    My experience with both sides is that the Chinese take into consideration your opinions (simple verbal or written explanation is enough make the changes rapidly, while the Indians are slow, well documented and when they decide to make the adjustments, it is to late or obsolete.
    This is not a criticism, it just an observation of what my experience has been with both cultures, and that is how I see them, just different cultures or ways of doing things.

  3. Fran says:

    Interesting points.
    Thank you for sharing.
    Now i’m interest to know the level of trust the West towards the two and the reason why.

  4. Larry Chang says:

    I think the author of this article is absolutely out of the business of international tradings between the Chinese and Indian.
    To most Chinese businessmen, the Indian traders are the most cunning people with poor calibre. Most of the time, they just keep barginning without any real sincerity to do business kindof wasting of time. It convinced me undoubtedly after witnessing two indian visitors stole pens from the table of our booth on 20th WPC, Doha.

    On the other hand, even being told that if they keep asking for lower prices the quality will be in dramastically low level, the Indian insist that those products can fit their market well. Hence, please don’t complain about the quality of Chinese products and it is the decision of your businessmen. They can simply find many good quality goods in China with higher prices but it seems that your market need the bad one.

  5. jasmine Liu says:

    Very strange title, does it do any good for the Chinese and Indian relationship? That makes me think, can I trust the Indians with out any experence?

  6. Tomas says:

    The Chinese market is not really open to Indian companies. Look at Wipro, Infosys and others – they never got traction. The Chinese on the other hand are like the Borg from Star Track they will assimilate you, move in and squeeze out others.

    Indians are smart but the Chinese are much more cunning. Both are equally corrupt. I’ve done business in both places and China has India beat hands down, sorry.

  7. Filip says:

    The headline is provocative for sure. That is why I started to read the article and the comments. However, I did not find any message, any content. Hence the article cannot encourage any discussion whatsoever. It just irritates people.

  8. Sam says:

    This is a quite interesting topic. I heard that Chinese also think Indian are cunning. However, westerners rather think both Chinese and Indian are too ‘smart’. Personally I have to admit that sometimes some Chinese and Indian are lacking in business ethics and manners as they simply chase the profits. Apart from understanding cutlure differences, it is very important to find the right person to do business with regardless of nationality.

  9. Mey says:

    My impression is that from the Indian perspective they look pretty much at status and good reputation, they do not mix easily with any customer, while chinese are more commercial, they listen and try to find out what they can do to get their profit first to satisfy the customer.

  10. danae says:

    each area has both gd and bad people, trustful and raud, no matter they hav same faith, belief, religion,culture and habit or not, so we cnt judge hws the people generally from surface impression. I am a Chinese, I admit some location or some Chinese really cunning, even we also hate them, bt who can say there is no any cunning people in India even in other countries, as the person who want to connect India and China, build gd relations between two biggest developing by doing some business honestly, I hope people can be more objective.

    • Norbert says:

      I fully agree with this statement…based on the high population in both Countries, you will find ‘more cunning’ people as eleswhere. But it does not mean that all people are the same. I have done business in both communities since over 15 years, I met all kind of so called business people. Since China had started to flood their low quality products all over the World for very low prices, everybody thinks that all companies have to adjust their prices to this low level (NOT considering the quality of the products). Many Indian companies were deeply ‘impressed’ by the low prices, and bought very low quality products for a very low price in China. After a very short time, the equipment failed, and the problems started…then, they have bought again high quality products for high prices.

      It was a painful experience to get, but in business not only the cheap investment have to be considered. Many plants have to run for more than 20 years.

      At the end of the day, the old wording is true (for any Country): You will get, what you have paid for!!!

  11. April says:

    I think this comment on China is not very objective or I didn’t know China well enough. To be honest, I rececived this education in China that China had helped Indian on a War whose name I don’t know exactly, and Indian doesn’ like China all the time. Am I wrong? I don’t know about Politics.

  12. Birendra Kumar Shrestha says:

    Anyway, this rival neighbors gaining benefits in economy like a competition of a game.

  13. Homepage says:

    You’ve made various nice points there. I did specific search terms around the matter and found mainly individuals will believe your site 366408

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