TikTok among 59 Chinese apps banned by India following deadly border clash

MARK BLUNDEN
Getty Images

Dozens of Chinese-made mobile apps have been banned by the Indian government following a fatal border clash between the two countries earlier this month.

TikTok and WeChat are among 59 Chinese-built software applications the Indian government says are a danger to the country’s national security.

In comes after vicious hand-to-hand fighting on a disputed border in the Himalayan region that left at least 20 Indian soldiers dead and an unconfirmed number of Chinese casualties.

Following the government order, Google and Apple will have to remove the apps from the Android and iOS stores.

The ban is a huge blow for Chinese firms looking to capitalise on one of the world’s biggest web services markets.

This month saw the worst clash between the two nuclear powers in more than five decades (AFP via Getty Images)

India is TikTok’s biggest foreign market, with 611 million downloads - more than 30 per cent of its total users.

TikTok owners Bytedance, which is headquartered in Beijing, had planned to invest $1 billion in India, open a local data centre and had recently launched a recruitment drive there.

But the firm has faced accusations of close links to the Chinese government, including sending harvested user data to the authorities, which has prompted calls for an investigation into the tech firm by some US senators.

Other apps now banned include the popular messaging platform WeChat, downloaded more than 100 million times on Android, and two apps by smartphone-maker Xiaomi.

Twitter-esque microblogging service Weibo and a number of e-commerce apps are also now prohibited in India.

Santosh Pai, a partner at Indian law firm Link Legal, said: “This is the quickest and most powerful step the government could have taken to put economic pressure on Chinese companies.”

Delhi’s Ministry of Information Technology said it was banning the 59 Chinese apps after receiving "many complaints from various sources" about apps it said were "stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users' data in an unauthorised manner”.

The ministry said: ”The compilation of these data, its mining and profiling by elements hostile to national security and defence of India, which ultimately impinges upon the sovereignty and integrity of India, is a matter of very deep and immediate concern which requires emergency measures”.

Indian customs at ports have since last week held back containers coming from China, including Apple, Cisco and Dell products.

The widescale tech ban comes amid escalating tensions along the disputed border in the Ladakh region and the worst clash between the two nuclear powers in more than five decades, as troops fought with rocks, metal rods and wooden clubs, due to a previous agreement soldiers cannot carry firearms in the zone.

China has not confirmed the number of its military personnel who died in the battle.

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