Indian press are reporting that an Indian trader from Mumbai has gone missing in Yiwu. The city in Zhejiang southwest of Shanghai is an import-export trade hub for small manufacturers of electronics components, and is where the bizarre abduction in January of two Indian businessmen with allegedly unpaid bills caused a diplomatic rumpus between New Delhi and Beijing.
There are few details of the latest incident. The Times of India says the Mumbai trader, whose name is being withheld by Indian diplomats, was seized at a local restaurant on the night of May 19. Two days later the Indian embassy in Beijing issued a warning to Indian businessmen to be careful in their dealings in Yiwu as their “freedom of movement could be curtailed” if they got embroiled in legal disputes with local traders. The advisory prompted a retort from the foreign ministry saying that it would affect “bilateral economic exchanges between the two countries”.
The Hindu newspaper says that “dozens” of foreign businessmen have been held captive by Yiwu traders after business deals encountered problems. They are usually released, the paper says, after outstanding debts are settled. The cases usually aren’t made public. This latest one, if indeed it turns out to be in the same vein, again casts a harsh light on the realities of conducting commerce in China, especially away from the big international cities with their sharp-suited lawyers and their contracts.
Footnote: Forty-five Chinese have been arrested in Nigeria on charges of illegally selling textiles in a Kano market.