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
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.”
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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.
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.”
India bans dozens of Chinese apps, including TikTok and WeChat, after deadly border clash
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 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 hotel union last week said they would not allow Chinese guests to stay in their properties.
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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.