On Tuesday, 24 November 2020, India, one of the world’s largest internet markets banned 43 additional Chinese mobile apps including AliExpress from being accessed by users in India. According to section 69A of the Information Technology Act.
Earlier, the Government of India had banned 118 Chinese mobile apps citing national security concerns. The current ban of the 43 Chinese mobile apps sends the total ban to 220 mobile Chinese apps.
Why the ban?
The Government of India cited cyber security concerns as the reason for the ban.
“This action was taken based on the inputs regarding these apps for engaging in activities which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defense of India, security of state and public order,” said India’s IT Ministry in a statement.
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology issued the order to block the access of these apps in their market “based on the comprehensive reports received from Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Center, Ministry of Home Affairs.”
Popular e-commerce website AliExpress was among the banned apps which come as a big blow to Alibaba as it faces yet another setback after its Ant Group’s US$37 billion Initial Public Offering was halted in China. Earlier banned apps include Baidu Express, Tik Tok, Tencent Watchlist, WeChat, Alipay, UC Browser, PUBG Mobile Lite among others.
The ban follows tension between the countries after more than 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a military clash in the Himalayas in June. Since then, a “Boycott China” sentiment trended over India’s social media.
How ban impacts China
Although India offers relative small revenue for Chinese Applications, India is one of the fastest growing major markets in the technology space which offers a major opportunity for Chinese technology firms
“Threatening to boycott Chinese goods or ban Chinese apps could potentially harm China, but it’s a bit of a hollow threat unless India has got alternatives in place,” Price said. “China makes the things that India wants to buy,” said a senior research fellow in the Asia-Pacific Programme at London’s independent policy institute, Chatham House.
According to a CNN report “If the ban remains in place, Chinese apps risk losing out on India’s booming digital advertising market, which is forecast to grow 26% to nearly 280 billion rupees ($3.7 billion) this year.”
India’s government therefore closes this market opportunity to China.
Impact of Ban on India
According to CNN, an App like Tik Tok, a popular video platform owned by ByteDance, has been downloaded onto Indian phones 660 million times since 2017 when it was launched. The ban will thus hurt hundreds to thousands of Indian content creators who depend on Tik Tok as a source of livelihood.
On the other hand, an Indian alternative to Tik Tok, Roposo may witness an upsurge of new users.