China has expressed concern regarding a decision by India to ban dozens of Chinese mobile apps as tension between the countries continue to escalate.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said China was “strongly concerned” about the ban placed by India on Chinese mobile apps. He added that the government is currently “checking and verifying information on the situation.”
Ban on Chinese apps and tension
On Monday, India announced that it would ban 59 Chinese apps, including TikTok, Weibo and WeChat, arguing that the platforms threatened the “sovereignty and integrity of India, defense of India, security of state and public order.”
WeChat is a messaging app owned by Chinese tech giant Tencent while Weibo is a Twitter-like microblogging platform.
The announcement is the latest development in the increasing tension between India and China, which was recently sparked by clashes at the Himalayas border earlier this month, which killed at least 20 Indian soldiers.
China accused India of crossing the border twice and “provoking and attacking Chinese personnel”.
The clash has led to problems in international trade, suspension of business deals, as well as calls for a boycott of Chinese goods and citizens in India.
China has also been actively funding economic projects in Pakistan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Nepal, India’s closest neighbors. This has caused fears in India that China is trying to reduce its influence within the region.
India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said it had received complaints that user data have been misused and transmitted by some mobile apps to servers outside India.
The ministry pointed out: “The compilation of these data, its mining and profiling by elements hostile to national security and defense of India … is a matter of very deep and immediate concern which requires emergency measures.”
Impact on TikTok
ByteDance’s popular video platform TikTok considers India as one of its biggest markets. Analytics firm Sensor Tower reported that the app has been downloaded 660 million times in India since its launch in 2017.
Last year, the video sharing app was briefly banned after a court ruled that it could expose children to sexual predators, pornography and cyber bullying. However, it was reinstated after a successful legal appeal.
Zhao said: “The Chinese government always asks Chinese businesses to abide by international rules and local laws and regulations in their business cooperation’s with foreign countries.”
However, he argued that the “Indian government has responsibility to uphold the legitimate rights of international investors, including Chinese ones.”
Randy Nelson, an analyst with Sensor Tower, explained that ByteDance could “miss out on another 100 to 150 million first-time installs of TikTok in India” in the second half of the year due to the ban.
Additionally, Eurasia Group analyst Akhil Bery mentioned that the ban could also become a hindrance for ByteDance and other companies seeking to take advantage of the internet boom in the country.
In a research note, Bery said: “With only about 50% of Indian consumers online, India’s market represents a massive amount of growth potential. Now, that has seemingly been cut off, and it is unlikely that the Indian government will walk back these restrictions.”