By Kevin Zhang
This week, India banned 118 Chinese apps, after the Indian government received complaints about the apps stealing user data and transmitting it to servers outside of India.
India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said in a statement on Wednesday that the apps were “prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India” as well as to security and public order.
The app ban this week came as tensions between China and India escalated. High-level military talks between the two countries failed to end the months-long standoff at the disputed border. According to Indian military officials, Indian soldiers claimed strategic outposts at the border and the Defense Ministry in New Delhi said that the Indian military was able to stop a push by Chinese troops to violate existing agreements and claim more ground on Saturday.
Over June and July, after a border standoff between China and India turned violent, India banned more than 100 Chinese apps including TikTok, the video-sharing platform developed by ByteDance Ltd., and UC Browser, a mobile browser app owned by Alibaba Group Holding.
India has also been tightening rules regarding Chinese investments in Indian companies and has increased scrutiny on visas for Chinese nationals traveling to India for business of any sort. China’s Huawei Technologies Co. and ZTE Corp. are also prevented from participating in the rollout of 5G technology in India.
The latest app ban’s biggest impact will be in the gaming sector in India, for included in the ban was the app PUBG Mobile, the mobile version of the popular PC game PlayerUnknown’s BattleGrounds. Since lockdowns were enforced in India due to the coronavirus pandemic, PUBG Mobile grew steadily in popularity in India, amassing tens of millions of users. Tencent’s shares dipped by 1% after the ban of PUBG Mobile but were largely unchanged with no significant effect.
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to infect more people, tensions between China and India continue to rise, and though bans of Chinese apps in India may hurt user’s rights, it will ultimately spur Indian companies to develop their own solutions instead of relying on foreign products.