Amid coronavirus fear, Chinese executives to give Auto Expo a miss


GREATER NOIDA: Chinese nationals employed by automobile companies – even those stationed in India for weeks – will give the Auto Expo a miss amid rising apprehension in India over the coronavirus outbreak. The decision was taken, at virtually the last minute, as automakers feared that the presence of Chinese nationals may discourage visitors from coming to their pavilions. Also, concerns expressed by government officials during interactions may have prompted the companies and event organisers to take the unprecedented step.
The decision means that hundreds of Chinese nationals who were slated to visit the event (which opens for media tomorrow and for the public from Friday) will now sit in their hotel rooms in Delhi, Gurgaon and even Greater Noida (which hosts the expo), but not enter the Expo venue.

More than 20% space, or over 8,000 sq m of the total 40,000 sq m at the Expo, has been reserved by Chinese companies. These include top companies such as SAIC (China’s biggest seller and owner of MG Motors), FAW (entering through the Haima brand), Great Wall Motors (largest Chinese SUV maker), and BYD (maker of electric buses and batteries). Apart from them, many smaller Chinese companies have also partnered Indian makers and thus would have been present at the Expo.
“As a proactive measure, Great Wall Motors has decided to excuse Chinese officials from visiting the Expo. We believe in taking utmost caution when it comes to local concerns and ensuring safety of those visiting our pavilion,” Hardeep Singh Brar, director (sales & marketing) of the company, told TOI. The company has decided to cancel the fam-visit of a large contingent of Chinese journalists that it was getting to India, while also postponing the visit of its global president Wang Fengying.
Siam, the organiser of the event, also confirmed that Chinese nationals will not be visiting. “All Chinese companies participating at the Expo have confirmed that their exhibit area would be manned by their Indian employees and representatives. None of these stalls would be manned by anybody who has come to India recently from China,” Siam president Rajan Wadhera said. “As all arrivals from China have now stopped, there will be no visitors and delegations from China at the Motor Show.”
Siam itself is taking steps to apprise Expo visitors of the safety measures they need to take, and how to notice any symptoms of the coronavirus. It is also installing hand sanitizers at various places at the expo.
MG Motors’ parent SAIC has also decided against getting any of the Chinese officials stationed at its India factory at Halol in Gujarat. Also, staff returning from China has been kept in single rooms and instructed not to share premises with others.
Ankur Bhatia, Indian partner of China’s FAW and owner of Bird Electric, said that Indian officials are now being deployed to man the booths. “Many of the Chinese staff are actually trying to even fly back home as they fear that travel advisories against the country may keep them stranded here for long.”
The absence of Chinese officials will mean that meetings fixed by Indian parts suppliers, and other partners, will not take place now. “It will have to be undertaken at some other time. We had no other option but to postpone,” Bhatia added.
A parallel component fair, that accompanies the vehicles expo, will also not have visitors from China. “Around 30 companies from the Chinese group have confirmed that their stand at components expo (at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi) would be managed by their Indian counterparts in their absence. As travel of Chinese nationals to India has now been stopped, there will be no representatives from China at the show,” components body ACMA said.

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