Indian government bans 59 Chinese apps because of diplomatic tensions

The Government of India has ordered a ban on 59 mobile apps by Chinese companies or developers. The Ministry of Information Technology of the Government of India has invoked its power under section 69A of the Information Technology Act and banned the apps that are ‘are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order.’

Earlier this month, the two countries were engaged in a military confrontation over a stretch of Himalayan border that left 20 Indian soldiers dead. This was the deadliest border clash in more than half a century between the two countries and several media reports indicate that China has occupied a section of Indian territory beyond the agreed Line of Actual Control (LAC) between the two countries.

Last week, both Indian and Chinese military agreed to disengage on the border, but the confrontation had fueled calls for a boycott of goods from China, its second-biggest trading partner. The ire has been particularly directed towards Chinese smartphone brands – Xiaomi is the number one smartphone brand in the country – as well as Chinese-origin apps like TikTok which is one of the most popular apps in India.

While the government has pushed the ban with a narrative around protecting the privacy of the citizens as many of these companies have often been accused of shady data privacy practices, it is obvious that the action has been prompted by the diplomatic tensions and the need for political positioning.

The list of banned apps includes hugely popular apps like TikTok, WeChat, UC Browser, ShareIT, etc. as well as two apps from Xiaomi – Mi Video Call and Mi Community. A complete list of the apps can be found here.

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