Two weeks after 20 Indian troops in hand-to-hand fighting with their Chinese counterparts in a disputed Himalayan border area, India has retaliated, banning 59 Chinese mobile apps, including the wildly popular TikTok and WeChat, over security and privacy concerns.
In a statement by the country’s Ministry of Information Technology, the Chinese apps were engaging in activities… prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order.
“The government of India has decided to disallow the usage of certain apps… This decision is a targeted move to ensure safety and sovereignty of Indian cyberspace.”
The statement said the move was taken after the ministry received several complaints alleging theft of users’ data and violations of user privacy.
Most of the applications are highly popular in India, including ByteDance-owned video-sharing apps TikTok and Helo, file-sharing app SHAREit and Alibaba’s UC browser and UC News, with a combined user base of more than half a billion.
There are estimated to be about 120 million TikTok users in India, making the South Asian nation of 1.3 billion people the app’s biggest international market.
Other apps on the banned list include microblogging app Weibo and strategy game Clash of Kings.
India and China fought a war over the border in 1962.
New Delhi has accused China of intruding into its territory in the region, a charge Beijing has denied.
The June 15 violence took place around 4,500 metres (15,000 feet) above sea level in the Galwan river valley abutting Aksai Chin, a strategic corridor linking Tibet to western China.
Thousands of soldiers remain on alert, although both sides said they were trying to resolve the standoff through dialogue.
A senior minister in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government demanded a ban on Chinese food while a prominent trading union said it would boycott a range of commodities imported from China.
Millions of Indians downloaded “Remove China Apps”, a mobile application that helped users detect and delete Chinese software, before it was removed by Google from its Play Store.
Chinese mobiles have an almost 65 percent share in the local smartphone market.