On Monday, India banned 47 apps, which were clones of the 59 Chinese apps banned in June, and is also examining 275 more apps for violation of national security and user privacy, according to reports.
Sources in the Information and Technology Ministry told The Indian Express that “the problem is with the operational ethics of certain apps”. The people also said that this is an ongoing process and if apps qualify under the same grounds of operational ethics, then they will also come under the scanner.
The 47 apps that have been banned now are mostly clones and variants of the applications which were banned earlier, PTI quoted sources as saying.
It includes TikTok Lite, Helo Lite, Shareit Lite and Bigo Live Lite, among others, PTI said.
India has now, The Economic Times reported, made a list of 275 more Chinese apps which it will scrutinise for any violation of national security. The list includes gaming app PUBG, which is backed by Tencent. The report quoted official sources as saying that reviews are underway to identify more Chinese apps and their funding.
China has lodged a solemn representation with India over the ban on 59 apps, with Chinese embassy spokesperson Ji Rong saying Beijing will also take “necessary measures to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies”.
In a statement, carried by state-run CGTN on Tuesday, Ji Rong said “practical cooperation” between China and India is mutually beneficial and “deliberate interference in such cooperation will not serve the interests of the Indian side”.
Chinese media has taken note of the ban and warned that it will hurt India-China economic ties.
An op-ed carried by China Daily said that banning Chinese apps is bad for India’s trade. It said that the latest move to ban 47 apps may further intensify tensions between the two countries as bilateral relations are already frayed after the 15 June clash between Indian and Chinese troops in Galwan.
The op-ed pointed out that the two countries have complementary economic structures and China was India’s largest trade partner from 2008 to 2018. It said India can realise its dream of becoming a great power only by better handling relations with its neighbours, including China.
Meanwhile, state-run Global Times quoted analysts as saying that Chinese investors’ confidence in India “will be battered and hopes of an improvement in bilateral economic relations will dim” if India moves to ban 275 Chinese apps.
It quoted Sha Jun, executive partner in the India Investment Services Center of Yingke Law Firm, as saying that if India bans the 275 apps, “it will deal a huge blow to foreign direct investment (FDI) in India from China”.
“It means nearly all capital from China will plummet to virtually zero,” Sha added.
Meanwhile, the Information Technology Ministry earlier this month gave three weeks to Chinese companies such as TikTok-owner ByteDance to respond to a questionnaire.
Reuters reported that Chinese companies have been asked by India to answer 77 questions about their apps that have been banned by New Delhi. The questions include whether they censored content, worked on behalf of foreign governments or lobbied influencers.