NEW DELHI: India on Monday banned Bytedance's TikTok, Alibaba's UC Browser, Tencent's WeChat, Shareit, Helo, Weibo, Baidu map and 52 other Chinese apps, a move that clearly points out to an escalation of tensions between the two neighbours that only a few days ago clashed at their borders in Ladakh.
The government said the apps "are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order."
The other apps which have been banned include UC News, Cam Scanner, Baidu Translate, We Meet, DU Privacy, WeSync, Swwet Selfie. It said the move "will safeguard the interests of crores of Indian mobile and internet users. This decision is a targeted move to ensure safety and sovereignty of Indian cyberspace."
A government release said there have been “raging concerns on aspects relating to data security and safeguarding the privacy of 130 crore Indians." It said the Ministry of Information Technology has received many complaints from various sources including several reports about misuse of some mobile apps available on Android and iOS platforms for stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data in an unauthorized manner to servers which have locations outside India.
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, the release said.
The role of Chinese internet companies and funds from the country have been a source of consternation in India in recent times, particularly at a time when the eastern neighbour has turned hostile. An app like TikTok, popular in smaller towns, has been found to be instrumental in fanning communal tension.
Thw third round of military-level talks are to take place on Tuesday on the Indian side to de-escalate tension between the two countries. The world's two most populous and nuclear-armed nations have significantly beefed up their military presence at the border.
China, under Xi Jinping, has turned increasingly belligerent over the last few months. Not just India, it has taken on Vietnam, the Phillippines, Japan, Indonesia and Australia in territories it claims belong to it.
According to an NYT report, Chinese lawmakers will meet Sunday to approve a national security law, drastically curbing political protest and dissent in Hong Kong. India has also noticed some Chinese activity in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Not only this, the Nepalese government, usually friendly, has also lately acted hostile to India, with China tacitly egging the Himalayan kingdom on.
Critics say this is Jinping's way to distract the focus on him given that China is the origin of the coronavirus, a fact it hid for a long time. The pandemic caused by the virus has already claimed more than half a million lives across the world even as its spread escalates.