China’s commerce ministry said on Thursday it strongly opposed India banning Chinese mobile apps. Indian actions violate the legal interests of Chinese investors and services providers and China asks India to correct its mistakes, commerce ministry spokesman Gao Feng told a briefing.
India has banned another 118 mostly Chinese mobile apps including Tencent Holdings Ltd’s popular videogame PUBG, citing data security concerns.
The list of 118 mostly Chinese apps also includes applications from Baidu and Xiaomi’s ShareSave. The ban was announced a day after a senior Indian official said troops were deployed on four strategic hilltops after what Delhi called an attempted Chinese incursion along a disputed Himalayan border.
These “apps collect and share data in a surreptitious manner and compromise personal data and information of users that can have a severe threat to the security of the state,” the ministry said in a statement. The ban is a blow for Tencent in India whose PUBG, a battle royale game, is a smash-hit in the country.
India ranks No. 1 in the world in terms of PUBG downloads, accounting for roughly 175 million installs, or 24 per cent of the total, apps analytics firm SensorTower says. India first banned 59 Chinese apps, including ByteDance’s popular video-sharing app TikTok, Tencent’s WeChat and Alibaba’s UC Browser, in June.
That move, which technology minister referred to as a “digital strike”, followed a skirmish with Chinese troops at the disputed Himalayan border site in June.
India’s moves have stalled business operations of several Chinese companies in India. They have also forced Alibaba, a major backer of Indian tech startups, to put on hold all plans to invest in the country for at least six months, Reuters reported in August.
Tech analysts say there is a risk the sudden change in the business environment will deter Chinese investment more generally. “The app bans not only give a negative signal to Chinese firms and investors already in India, but even those waiting for a favourable climate to invest in India may now back off now,” said Atul Pandey, a partner at law firm Khaitan & Co who has advised several Chinese clients.