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Traders' body CAIT seeks probe into Chinese investment in Indian start-ups


NEW DELHI: The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) on Tuesday shot off a letter to Finance Minister Nirmala Sithraman, IT and Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal seeking an investigation of Chinese investment in Indian companies.

"Chinese companies like Alibaba, Tencent, and others are lead investors in many Indian start-ups and as such it is to be ensured that no foul play is taking place under the garb of investment," CAIT said in the letter.

Virtually every unicorn has a sizable Chinese backing. The traders' body highlighted that investment in Indian start-ups including Ola, Flipkart, Paytm Mall, Paytm.com, Swiggy, Hike, OYO, Zomato, Policybazaar, BigBasket, Delhivery, MakeMyTrip, Dream 11, Snapdeal, Udaan, Lenskart.com, Byjus Classes, Citrus Tech, etc needs a thorough evaluation.

"....we also urge that the Chinese companies that have set up their manufacturing plants in India should also be investigated to ensure that the data they have accrued is not sent to China in any way and there is no threat to the security of the country," said CAIT secretary general Praveen Khandelwal.

The statement from the traders' lobby, which represents seven crore traders and 40,000 trade associations in India, came just a day after the Central government banned 59 Chinese apps in India citing a threat to national security and sovereignty.

Paytm Founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma lauded the move and tweeted: "Bold step in the national interest. A step towards Atma nirbhar (self-reliant) app ecosystem. Time for the best Indian entrepreneurs to come forward and build the best by Indians, for Indians."

However, Sharma received a lot of flak for his tweet as netizens pointed out about his investors. Run by One97 Communications, Paytm counts China's Alibaba and Ant Financial as major investors.

Last week, the traders' body also came down heavily on the India head of the Chinese Smartphone maker Xiaomi, Manu Kumar Jain for saying that the boycott Chinese sentiment exists only on social media and is a result of "mob mentality". Taking serious exception to the statement, CAIT said his comments were "most insensitive and disrespectful". Khandelwal said that Jain is now "trying to please his Chinese masters".

“We are sure that in the larger interest of the nation, you will immediately look in the matter and will take appropriate action,” the Delhi-based traders' group said in the letter.