India, China commanders meet after border clash amid calls for boycott of Chinese goods
By Sanjeev Miglani and Devjyot Ghoshal
NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Indian and Chinese military commanders met on Monday to try to alleviate tensions at their controversial Himalayan border as public mood in India changed for a military and after the worst clash in more than five decades economic backlash aggravated.
Major Indian traders called for a boycott of Chinese goods, and the state of Maharashtra, home of Mumbai, the Indian capital of finance, put three initial investment proposals by Chinese companies valued at 50 billion rupees ($ 658 million) on hold a few days after the contracts were signed.
India said 20 of its soldiers were killed in a clash with Chinese troops last Monday when there was an escalating conflict between the nuclear-armed Asian giants in the western Himalayas.
According to an Indian government source, commanders met in Moldo on the Chinese side of the real control line, the de facto border that separates the Indian region of Ladakh from the Chinese Aksai Chin region.
The meeting lasted several hours, with the Indian side pushing China to withdraw its troops to where they were in April, a second source told the Indian government.
China had previously asked India to stop all construction on the Chinese territory.
Last Monday soldiers in the Galwan Valley fought with stones, metal bars and wooden bats after a week-long break.
China has not disclosed how many victims it has suffered, despite an Indian minister claiming that around 40 Chinese soldiers were killed.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said in Beijing on Monday that the two sides are communicating through diplomatic and military channels.
Many in India have asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi's nationalist government to show that she is not being bullied and remembers her country's humiliation in a brief border war against China in 1962.
Members of an Indian dealer organization made a bonfire of Chinese goods in a market in New Delhi and pushed for a nationwide boycott of products made in China.
The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), which represents around 70 million traders, has called on federal and state governments to support a boycott of Chinese goods and to terminate government contracts with Chinese companies.
"The entire nation is filled with extreme anger and intensity to respond to China not only militarily but also economically," CAIT Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal wrote in a letter to the Prime Ministers of some Indian states.
In affluent Maharashtra, the government said it has put three investment plans, including Great Wall Motor Co, on hold.
"In the current environment, we will be waiting for the federal government to announce a clear policy regarding these projects," said Industry Minister Subhash Desai.
China is India's second largest trading partner with a bilateral trade value of $ 87 billion in the fiscal year to March 2019 and a trade deficit of $ 53.57 billion in favor of China, the largest India of all countries.
The editor-in-chief of the Chinese newspaper Global Times warned that "India's nationalists must cool off".
"China's GDP is five times India's, military spending is three times higher," Hu Xijin, editor of the Global Times, said in a post on Twitter.
The Global Times is published by the People's Daily, the official newspaper of the ruling Chinese Communist Party.
(Additional reporting by Gabriel Crossley in Beijing, Neha Dasgupta, Aditi Shah, Rajendra Jadhav and Sankalp Phartiyal; editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Nick Macfie)
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