After Oppo factory protest, 'boycott China' call puts firms on high alert

VHP and Bajrang Dal activists burn a poster of Chinese President Xi Jinping in Bhopal. Photo: PTI
Last week’s protests outside Oppo’s Greater Noida factory that sent shockwaves across the corridors of Chinese majors operating in India, could be the first among many such incidents.

Several right-wing groups, led by the Hindu Raksha Dal (HRD), are preparing to unleash more protest movements.

HRD is a conservative organisation, based in Ghaziabad, which draws inspiration from glories of a ‘Hindu society’. It’s tagline is — Empowering the Hindu society and protecting the Hindu dharma. With 450,000 registered members in its fold, the organisation boasts of an active presence in Delhi-NCR, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand.

Unlike its last showing on Saturday, the next wave will include all possible battlegrounds — from on-ground activities to social and digital media campaigns.

Volunteers are now gearing up for a public awareness campaign, which will involve door-to-door messaging and protest gatherings, said a Noida-based member of the group.

According to Sanket Katara, spokesperson and lawyer for HRD: “As the Chinese continue their aggression at the border, we will continue to protest against Chinese firms,” he told Business Standard.

The boycott movement gained steam after 20 soldiers were of the Indian Army were reported to have been killed in a deadly combat on June 15-16.

With the crisis spreading fast, Chinese companies are getting battle-ready. People in the know said that from social and digital media campaign teams to communications specialists —all hands were on deck, and every possible post or campaign with the potential to intensify the crisis, was being tracked.

Companies are initiating an awareness campaign of their own. From retail partners to factory workers, brands like Xiaomi, Vivo, OnePlus and Realme, among others, are engaging with stakeholders. “The idea is to send across the message assertively that we are more of an Indian company than Chinese. Over 90 per cent of our employees and 100 per cent of our retailers are Indian, majority of our sourcing partners are from India, and we have made significant investments in India to set up our manufacturing and R&D bases,” said a senior executive of a prominent Chinese firm.

“While in the long run such incidents may not have an impact, in the short run Chinese brands will be affected with respect to sales,” said Faisal Kawoosa, lead analyst at TechArc.

The brunt of the anti-China protest movements has been borne by the consumer electronics brands. 

Their ever-growing influence on local markets for smartphones and televisions, and high-voltage promotional campaigns to gain consumers’ attention has turned the tide against them, said brand experts.

“Chinese brands need to adopt a wait-and-watch philosophy. They need to sit out the crisis,” said Harish Bijoor, founder of Harish Bijoor Consults. According to him, given the lack of alternatives in categories like smartphones, firms will remain insulated from the onslaught.

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