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THE FRENCH PRESIDENT VISIT TO CHINA (AND NOT TO INDIA)

The French President, Mr Emmanuel Macron, is at this very moment on an official visit to China, alongside with the European Union President, Ursula von der Leyen.

 

The overt reason is that they are both trying to convince Chinese President Xi Jinping not to side with Russia in the Ukrainian conflict. Yet we know very well that Jinping will not bend, and will do as he likes, keeping in mind that China’s natural ally is Russia - and not the European Union.

 

What is then the real purpose for Mr Macron's high profile visit to the Chinese Dragon ?

 

If you look closely, you will see that he brings with him a very very high level business delegation hoping to sell to the Chinese Airbuses, nuclear plants, and all kinds of French technology. Yes, it is a purely economical trip, couched in diplomatic sugarcoating !

 

Yet, the real question is : the French President was supposed to visit India in January, but his visit neither materialized, nor is any date announced, bare for the fact that Mr Macron may have invited Sri Narendra Modi to attend the French National Day celebrations on 14th of July. I have been defending India as a privileged economic investment destination, for France and the West for 30 years. I argued, again and again, that contrary to China, India is a western loving democracy, with a sound juridical system in place, where foreign investments are much safer than in China in the long run. Also, since a few months, in the wake of China zero COVID policy, and the negative economic consequences of the Russia-Ukraine war in Europe, it has been put across again and again that India has been doing better economically than the rest of the world including China, and that many western companies are in the process of relocating away from China to India.

 

Why then, is Mr Macron going straight to China, without a word about India ? I am not an economist, but is the Indian economy doing as well as portrayed by the PMO’s media machine, directed by Dr Hiren Joshi ? Is this campaign, giving a glowing picture of the Indian economy and Mr Narendra Modi’s liberalization of the economy and growing international clout abroad, exaggerated ?

 

On the ground, it may seem so : visa rules are increasingly tightened, banking in India for foreigners is more and more difficult, FCRA guidelines more and more stringent, and even OCIs, which were supposed to be inviolable, are under scrutiny. Therefore, it is difficult at the moment to do business in India, and this may be one of the reasons why Mr Macron went back to China in spite of all our entreaties. The BJP govt admitted in the Lok Sabha in December 2022 that as many as 2,783 foreign companies and their subsidiaries ceased operations in India between 2014 and November 2021. Some of these are well known companies such as Harley Davidson and Ford, Cairn Energy, Holcim, Daiichi Sankyo, Carrefour, Henkel, etc.

 

 

I have been a fan of the BJP since the times when I went with Mr Murli Manohar Joshi to Srinagar, to raise the Indian flag and with L.K. Advani during his yatra. I have also been an ardent defender of Sri Narendra Modi since 2002, when he was hounded by the whole world after Godhra. This has personally cost me, because many of my fellow journalists thought I was a pro-hindu islamophobe.

 

Yet, the question needs to be asked : is there, within the ranks of the BJP government & the RSS, a suspicion, and sometimes a whiff of racism towards westerners ? We see for example at the moment, that the International City of Auroville, which was founded by a French woman, the Mother of Pondicherry, and where 3 million trees were planted on an arid plateau by foreigners, is under attack. The government has posted there a Secretary, Dr Jayanti Ravi, a remarkable Indian Civil Service officer, no doubt, but who nevertheless deals with Aurovillians as if they were villagers who need to be beaten up to fall in line. She is not only cutting some of the forests which have made Auroville one of the only green places in the deforested plains of Tamil Nadu, but she is also using visa blackmail against all those who oppose her. There are nearly 1000 french nationals in Auroville, many of those have been here for 30, 40 or even 50 years. They are all extremely thankful to the government of India, whether it is the Congress or the BJP, to allow this unique experiment on its soil. But Mrs Ravi portrays them as anti government and anti national, and goes ruthlessly after them. She, for instance, recently had a young Frenchman, Maël Shanti Vidal, thrown out of India, though he was born in Auroville, has an Indian partner, and feels that India is his country of adoption.

 

Is Mr Macron aware of this fact, and could it be one of the reasons why he has avoided - for the moment - visiting India ? We hope not, because we continue thinking that Mr Narendra Modi is the man of the moment, with a great vision, dedication, and reach. Thus, we will continue saying that India SHOULD become the privileged economical and geopolitical partner of Europe and France.

 

Francois gautier

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