China is openly opposing India's decision to ban dozens of Chinese mobile apps from its country. The move comes as tensions between two of the world's most populous countries continue to escalate.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Zhao Lijian, mentioned in a press conference on Tuesday that the country is "strongly concerned" about India's decision to escalate both countries' territorial squabble by outright banning Chinese mobile apps. He added that the government is still reviewing and verifying the situation.
Zhai stated that India should not arbitrarily overturn the legitimate rights of international investors without just cause. The country's response came after India's Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology issued an interim order on Monday to ban the use of 59 Chinese mobile applications. This included the popular short-video streaming social media platform TikTok, microblogging app Weibo, navigation app Baidu Map, and popular Chinese messaging app WeChat.
The ban will likely have a huge impact on the aforementioned apps' user base, given the number of Indian users that download and use them each day. TikTok, which is owned by Chinese tech firm ByteDance, has been downloaded more than 660 million times in India since it was launched back in 2017.
India claimed that the apps were a threat to its integrity, defense, and sovereignty and that the move was necessary to ensure public order. The decision came after the government reportedly received thousands of complaints of the misuse of the mobile apps and alleged transmission of user data to Chinese servers. The Indian government alleged that the apps were being used to mine and profile Indian citizens, data that could be used to undermine the country's national security.
Apart from the alleged complaints, the government's decision to ban the Chinese apps comes after a nationwide outcry for the country to boycott Chinese-made goods and services. Tensions between the two nations escalated to new highs following a deadly skirmish between Chinese and Indian troops along a disputed border in mid-June.
TikTok India head, Nikhil Gandhi, mentioned in a statement that the company is now attempting to set up a meeting with Indian officials for clarifications and for the opportunity to appeal the decision. According to the company, TikTok has complied with all data privacy and security regulations in the country. The company also denied the allegations that it shares data from its Indian users to any foreign governments. The app is estimated to have more than 120 million active users in India.
Tencent, which owns WeChat, and Baidu have yet to release a statement in response to India's ban. Other Chinese firms affected by the ban, including Xiaomi, have also not yet released statements.