Union minister Nitin Gadkari, who also holds the road transport and highways portfolio, on Wednesday said that China will not be allowed to participate in highway projects in India, PTI reported. Gadkari’s announcement came two days after the Centre banned 59 Chinese apps amid heightened tensions following violence between the two countries’ troops in Ladakh last month.

“We will not give permission to joint ventures that have Chinese partners for road construction,” Gadkari told the news agency in an interview. “We have taken a firm stand that if they [Chinese companies] come via joint venture in our country, we will not allow it.”

Gadkari added that the government will soon introduce a policy to relax norms for Indian companies that want to be part of highway projects. “I have directed the Highways Secretary Giridhar Aramane and National Highways Authority of India Chairman SS Sandhu to hold a meeting for relaxing technical and financial norms so that our companies can qualify to work,” Gadkari said.

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Gadkari also said the Centre will ensure that Chinese business are not allowed to invest in Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises and other sectors in India. “Even if we have to go for foreign joint venture in the areas of technology, consultancy or design, we will not allow Chinese,” he said. He added that the government will continue to encourage investment from other countries.

The union minister, in response to a question about reports of Chinese consignments being blocked at Indian ports, said that there is no such “no arbitrary stopping of goods”. Gadkari, however, said that the government will discourage exports from China and make efforts to become more self-reliant.

Tensions between the India and China soared after a clash between their respective armies in Ladakh’s Galwan valley last month. Twenty Indian soldiers were killed and 76 injured in the violent altercation on the intervening night of June 15-June 16. The face-off between the two neighbouring countries was the worst instance of violence along the Line of Actual Control since 1975.

The violence sparked calls for boycott of Chinese goods and businesses across the country. On Monday, the Centre blocked 59 apps with Chinese links, claiming that they were a threat to India’s sovereignty.