WHEN it comes to acting as vortexes for foreign money these days, you have got to hand it to China or India. The latter may still be a long way behind the mainland but investment is building up fast. This year alone, the country is expected to lure up to US$2 billion in direct foreign investment. Not surprisingly, the debate frequently pops up as to which of the two is a better investment bet. Only on Tuesday, Bank of East Asia chief David Li Kwok-po and leading Indian businessman Hari Harilela slugged it out, albeit in a friendly way, on which of the two comes out tops. Mr Harilela rightly pointed out that China's future was clouded by political uncertainties in the post-Deng era. Fine. But we first have to wait till the patriarch dies and even then a post-Deng leadership, however untested, already appears to be in place. In India, the problem is more immediate. Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao is already under siege over his four-year old economic reform movement. The opposition left-wing parties and the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have been accusing his leadership of benefiting the multinationals at the expense of the country's teeming poor. The electorate is beginning to listen, with Mr Rao suffering several state election setbacks recently. A bigger problem for Mr Rao is emerging from within his own ruling Congress Party. Dissidents have started echoing the same opposition charges. They are demanding the government lend a helping hand to domestic companies, prop up state-owned groups, put a brake on foreign imports and re-impose foreign exchange controls. They have gone as far as naming a party president to replace Mr Rao. What this means for the country and foreign investors is that the reform movement which seemed so secure as recently as last year could now be under severe strain. It is easy to believe that the Congress Party dissidents are turning to populist appeals in an attempt to ensure they stay in power. Four decades of socialist economic planning left the country sadly lagging behind its neighbours. Four years of open-door policy changed all that. Mr Rao knows he cannot afford to turn back the clock. If he does, the India-China debate will end there. Whatever one may say of China, the reform movement is there to stay.