Home >Opinion >Quick Edit >Use the Chinese app ban to catalyse local development

It’s not just the borders in eastern Ladakh where India is repelling Chinese designs. New Delhi is in hot pursuit of Chinese mobile applications that pose a security threat to the country. On Wednesday, the Centre banned 118 Chinese mobile apps, including the popular PUBG war-game app. The move follows recent action against 59 other Chinese apps, including TikTok, and 47 of their clones. The government in its latest statement said that the banned mobile applications were prejudicial to the sovereignty, integrity, defense of India and public order.

The dangers of data stored in a Chinese server of a shoot-em-app have not been elaborated, but it's clear that with this move, India has raised the economic cost China will have to pay for its misadventures on the border. India, after all, accounted for 175 million downloads of PUBG, about a quarter of its global figure, making this its largest market. Other banned apps such as TikTok, CamScanner and UC Browser also counted on India for a big bulk of their global users. With the doors to such a huge market now shut, the hit to their businesses is likely to be significant. More importantly, other countries too are contemplating similar action. The US, for instance, has also banned some of China’s most popular apps. If other markets also slam their doors shut, Chinese businesses could suffer.

But if the ban on Chinese apps has hurt their business, it has also hurt the source of income of a large number of their Indian users, some of whom are estimated to have been raking in more than 1 crore a year, by signing up with gaming companies and playing as their representatives. It has to be conceded that the Chinese have stolen a march over others in the development of high-tech apps. If competitive alternatives do not arise, these apps could sneak right back into the country to fulfill unmet demand under an identity that conceals Chinese ownership. India, therefore, should focus on developing its own creative mobile apps. The country has the wherewithal. One hopes that the latest action proves to be the catalyst needed. That could be a big step not only towards self-reliance in this field, but also to make a play for a lucrative global market.

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