China says concerned about India banning Chinese apps; TikTok claims ban provisional

Sandeep Dikshit
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, June 30

The central government’s virtual strike of banning Chinese 59 apps has become another cause for disagreement after Beijing asked New Delhi to uphold the legitimate and legal rights of the international investors including Chinese ones.

Reacting to India’s ban of the Chinese apps at a Chinese Foreign Ministry briefing here, spokesman Zhao Lijian said, “China is strongly concerned about the relevant notice issued by the Indian side. We are checking and verifying the situation.

“I want to stress that the Chinese government always asks the Chinese businesses to abide by international rules, local laws and regulations in their business cooperation with foreign countries,” he said.

“The Indian government has the responsibility to uphold the legitimate and legal rights of the international investors including the Chinese ones,” he added.

While the Chinese Foreign Ministry withheld further comment till it had verified the facts, the embassy here cited four grounds for seeking a review of the Indian Government’s announcement on Monday banning 59 apps, including the popular TIkTok, on grounds of national security due to apprehensions of surreptitious data mining and its transfer to servers abroad.

The ban order has been widely welcomed on social media while the app disappeared from Apple iOs and Google Playstore in India.

The ban comes after a month-long campaign led by Hindutva organisations for blocking TikTok though national security was then not among their reasons.

A TikTok India statement gave the impression that the ban was provisional and the IT Ministry has asked it to give “clarifications’’. TikTok’s India chief Nikhil Gandhi said the company will not share information with anyone, adding that “if we are requested, we would not do so”. It was banned on the same grounds of lack of data privacy and security in March last year but the ban was lifted after nine days.

The ban comes at an inopportune time for TikTok’s Beijing-based ByteDance, which was planning a massive ramp up of operations in India, where revenues are still low. But in a bigger blow to China, the campaign against TikTok, including by US Senators, has come at a time when it was emerging as the first example of Chinese soft power in the form of a globally successful social network, with an appeal that extended to the Western world.

Though the Chinese Foreign Ministry withheld any more comments, its mission here said the grounds for the banning of the 59 apps was  “ambiguous and far-fetched”, grated against the general trend of global trade and e-commerce and was not conducive to consumer interests and the market competition in India. The embassy was even concerned about the employment prospects of the Indian staff, the interests of Indian users and livelihood of creators and entrepreneur

However, the response on social media in India did not match the Chinese embassy’s expectations as most users, including those in Punjab, opted to say  “bye-bye” and were transiting to other apps since the trigger for the ban is widely understood to be the deaths of Indian soldiers on June 15 and Chinese intransigence in stepping back from the LAC. However, some social media users pointed out that the central government gave no explanation for lifting the ban last year, nor did it respond to Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s call to return all the money donated by Chinese companies to the PM Care’s Fund. With inputs from PTI


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