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Video-sharing apps like TikTok are popular among India’s youths. Photo: dpa

India bans 59 Chinese apps, including TikTok and WeChat, after deadly border clash

  • Government cites national security and privacy concerns, saying decision aims to ‘ensure safety and sovereignty of Indian cyberspace’
  • Country has an estimated 120 million TikTok users, making it the video-sharing app’s biggest international market
India on Monday banned 59 Chinese mobile apps, including the wildly popular TikTok and WeChat, over national security and privacy concerns just weeks after a deadly Himalayan border clash between the nuclear-armed neighbours.
Relations between the world’s two most populous nations have been strained following the deaths of 20 Indian troops in hand-to-hand fighting with their Chinese counterparts on the western end of the high-altitude, contested border in mid-June.

The apps “are engaged in activities … prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order,” the ministry of information technology said in a statement.

“The government of India has decided to disallow the usage of certain apps … This decision is a targeted move to ensure safety and sovereignty of Indian cyberspace.”

01:58

Indians call for boycott of Chinese goods after deadly border clash with China

Indians call for boycott of Chinese goods after deadly border clash with China

The statement said the move was taken after several complaints were received by the ministry alleging theft of users’ data and violations of user privacy. It was unclear when the ban would come into force.

Most of the applications are highly popular in India, including ByteDance-owned video-sharing apps TikTok and Helo, file-sharing app SHAREit and Alibaba’s UC browser and UC News, with a combined user base of more than half a billion.

There are estimated to be about 120 million TikTok users in India, making the South Asian nation of 1.3 billion people the app’s biggest international market.

Prepare for India border row to escalate, Chinese strategists warn Beijing

On Tuesday, the head of TikTok India issued a statement saying the firm has “not shared any information of our users in India with any foreign government, including the Chinese government”.

“Further if we are requested to in the future we would not do so,” Nikhil Gandhi said, adding that “hundreds of millions of users, artists, story-tellers, educators and performers... [depend] on it for their livelihood.”

03:08

India bans dozens of Chinese apps, including TikTok and WeChat, after deadly border clash

India bans dozens of Chinese apps, including TikTok and WeChat, after deadly border clash
Other apps on the banned list include microblogging app Weibo and strategy game Clash of Kings.
But anger has been brewing across India since the soldiers were killed in a brawl along the disputed border in northern Ladakh region on June 15 in the deadliest face off for almost half a century between the two countries.

It was the first time troops have been killed on their frontier since 1975. Beijing has not disclosed if there were any casualties among their troops. India and China fought a war over the border in 1962.

New Delhi has accused China of intruding into its territory in the region, a charge Beijing has denied.

The viral Indian app helping users get rid of Chinese software

The June 15 violence took place around 4,500 metres above sea level in the Galwan river valley abutting Aksai Chin, a strategic corridor linking Tibet to western China.

Thousands of soldiers remain on alert, although both sides said they were trying to resolve the stand-off through dialogue.

The deaths triggered massive outrage and street protests in India. There have been calls for the banning of Chinese businesses, which export goods worth nearly US$60 billion to India.

A senior minister in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government demanded a ban on Chinese food while a prominent trading union said it would boycott a range of commodities imported from China.

A hotel union last week said they would not allow Chinese guests to stay in their properties.

Millions of Indians downloaded “Remove China Apps”, a mobile application that helped users detect and delete Chinese software, before it was removed by Google from its Play Store.

01:33

How China’s TikTok video app became a global sensation

How China’s TikTok video app became a global sensation
Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi, however, which has a more than 30 per cent share of the Indian market, is promoting itself as a company in line with the government’s “Make in India” slogan, an apparent move to counter anti-Chinese sentiments.

Chinese mobiles have an almost 65 per cent share in the local smartphone market.

From toys, cosmetics, make-up and handbags to home appliances, pharmaceuticals, car components and steel, China exports more than 3,000 products to India.

Beijing’s direct investments have soared from US$1.6 billion in 2014 to at least US$8 billion in 2017, while planned and current investments are forecast at US$26 billion, according to US think-tank Brookings.

Chinese investors have also ploughed millions of dollars into major Indian start-ups including delivery app Zomato and payments app Paytm.

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