India raises tension with Beijing by banning 59 Chinese apps, including TikTok
Tensions between China and India, the world’s two most populous countries and nuclear powers, have climbed another notch. The Ministry of Technology in New Delhi has banned almost 60 applications from the neighboring country, including the very popular TikTok, for short videos, and WeChat, for messaging. The announcement, in the middle of the night, came two weeks after a bloody confrontation on the disputed border between the armies of both countries, in which 20 Indian soldiers died, unleashed a spiral of recriminations and threatening gestures.
Despite numerous civil and military contacts, and that the two countries assure that they want to resolve the dispute peacefully, since the hand-to-hand confrontation on June 15 – the most violent in half a century between the two countries – thousands of soldiers from The two armies are in a state of alert along the border, which presents many points in dispute and which already motivated a war between the two colossi in 1962. New Delhi accuses the Chinese troops of having entered its territory, somewhat which Beijing rejects. Commentators and part of the Indian public had launched calls for a boycott of Chinese products.
India’s coup, the strongest retaliation to which it has resorted so far in the escalation of tension, hits China where it can hurt the most – in its aspirations to become a global technological benchmark – without great risk of harming your own industry sector. New Delhi had already imposed restrictions on the participation of the giant Huawei in the networks of telephone operators backed by the Indian government.
India is the main international market for applications like TikTok: according to the Sensor Data consultancy in April, 611 million or 30% of the 2 billion permanent downloads of this program came from that country. There, the application has 200 million active users – more, even, than in China itself, where that number is around 130 – and it has become part of popular culture, especially among the youngest. ByteDance, the company that owns TikTok, planned an ambitious expansion program in the subcontinent, which included an investment of one billion dollars and the creation of a local data center. With only about half of Indian consumers still using the Internet, the growth potential is vast for Chinese companies in the sector.
At the daily press conference of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, its spokesman, Zhao Lijian, expressed the concern of Beijing – which for its part maintains a strict censorship on foreign applications and social networks in its cyberspace – over the measure and assured that the Government carefully examine the situation. He also stressed that India has a responsibility to respect the rights of Chinese companies.
In its announcement, the Indian Ministry of Information Technologies had indicated that it was withdrawing the authorization for the use of these applications to “guarantee the security and sovereignty of Indian cyberspace”, since “in light of the available information, they are involved in activities that are detrimental to the sovereignty and integrity of India, the defense of India, the security of the State and the public order ”. The statement also accuses these applications of violating the privacy of their users by surreptitiously sending their customer data, without authorization, to servers outside of India. This serves for the “profiling of elements hostile to national security and defense” of the country and which, therefore, represents a “deep concern that requires immediate emergency measures.”
TikTok, for its part, denies any wrongdoing. “TikTok continues to respect the security and privacy of data in accordance with Indian law and has not shared any information about our users in India with foreign governments, not even the Chinese government,” the Indian branch of the company stressed in a release.