China has been famous for blocking international technology platforms from operating in the country – think Facebook, Google, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube to name only a few – and now its getting a taste of its own restrictive policies after India has banned 59, mostly Chinese, mobile apps including Bytedance's TikTok and Tencent's WeChat. India has implemented the ban, as its strongest move to targeting China in the online space after a border crisis erupted between the two countries this month, which left at least 20 Indian soldiers dead.
India's Ministry of Technology issued an order last week that stated that the Chinese apps are "prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of India, defense of India, security of state and public order".
After the Ministry of Technology issued its order, it directed both Apple and Google to remove these apps from their respective iOS and Android stores.
The ban by India is a big stumbling block for Chinese firms such as Bytedance and WeChat in India, that have made large investments into India, which is one of the world's biggest technology services markets.
India is the biggest market of TikTok app installations, and according to app analytics firm Sensor Tower, India accounts for 611 million, or 30.3% of TikTok’s lifetime downloads. Bytedance, which owns TikTok had plans to invest $1 billion USD in India, open a local data center and had been hiring new staff, but now its business development plans are on hold.
Another major app that has been banned is Tencent's WeChat app, which has been downloaded more than 100 million times by Indian users.
Santosh Pai, a partner at Indian law firm Link Legal, which advises Chinese companies on Indian market entry and business development said, "This is the quickest and most powerful step the government could have taken to put economic pressure on Chinese companies.”
But the app ban is not the only sign of India taking economic actions against China, as Indian customs officials at ports in the country have held back containers coming from China, which have included products from international companies such as Apple, Cisco and Dell that have been made in China.
Anti-China sentiment has been a long simmering issued in India as cheap Chinese imports have flooded the country.
Amid the recent border clash between the two countries, Indian economic, government and media analysts have been focusing on the narrative that Indian businesses and consumers don’t need the various Chinese apps they have used and that there are both Indian and international, non-Chinese companies, that can provide apps with the same functions.
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