The ongoing escalation at the border has led to deteriorating relations between India and China. As a result, Chinese companies operating in India will likely face the wrath of the government as well as users. It’s also evident from the flagging of 52 apps linked to China by Indian intelligence agencies.
A media report said that the agencies have reached out to the government to block or prevent the use of apps including Bytedance-owned short video app TikTok, WeChat, UC Browser, ClubFactory, NewsDog, Shein, Helo, Mi Video call – Xiaomi, Xender, SHAREit, Cleanmaster and few others. The parameters and the risks attached to each of the 52 apps will have to be examined one by one, mentioned in the HT report.
Apart from data breach concerns, the ongoing faceoff at the border with China could be a driver for the recommendation. The two countries have been locked in a dispute over the line of actual control (LAC) in a few sectors in Ladakh.
Chinese corporations such as Bytedance, UC Browser, and SHAREit have been under the Indian agencies’ scanner for a long time. In several instances, the Indian Army has advised soldiers not to use these apps due to security reasons.
If these apps get blocked in India, they are likely to lose a considerable scale overnight. TikTok has over 200 million users in the country and India alone had contributed the highest number of downloads in May. About 30% of the overall 2 billion downloads of TikTok are from India. SHAREit and UC Browsers also count India as their major market.
While defense and the diplomatic experts rule out the possibility of a full-fledged war between India and China, the central government is likely to tighten the noose on Chinese companies operating in India. Previously, the government had banned investments coming from neighboring countries under the automatic route.
The rule, particularly, has restricted China from taking advantage of the dip in India’s stock market due to the Covid-19 outbreak. The world’s second-largest economy has been trying to buy distressed assets in many countries. The acquisition of a 1% stake in India’s mortgage lender HDFC by China’s central bank prompted India’s move.