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China expresses grave concerns over India's recent bans of mobile apps

November 26, 2020 | 08:26

China expressed "grave concerns" after India banned another 43 Chinese apps, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said at a regular press briefing on November 25.

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On November 24, India banned another batch of 43 Chinese mobile apps. Photo: India Today

China expressed "grave concerns" after India banned another 43 Chinese apps, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said at a regular press briefing on November 25.

The decision clearly violated the market principles and rules of the World Trade Organization, seriously damaging the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese enterprises, Zhao was cited by CGTN as saying.

Zhao's remarks came after India on November 24 blocked access to 43 mostly Chinese mobile apps, including Alibaba Group Holding Ltd's e-commerce app Aliexpress. A few dating apps were also added to the block list.

India has imposed bans on around 200 apps this year, claiming risks to its national security.

It forbid access to 59 mostly Chinese mobile apps including Bytedance's TikTok and Tencent's WeChat following border skirmishes that erupted between the two countries in June, before moving to prohibit another 47 apps in July and over 100 Chinese mobile apps, including wildly popular mobile game PUBG, in September.

On the same day, the spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy in India, Counselor Ji Rong also responded to India's decision. "We firmly oppose the Indian side's repeated use of 'national security' as an excuse to prohibit some mobile apps with Chinese background," Ji said.

India's ban against Chinese apps not only damages the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese investors and service providers, but also harms the interests of Indian consumers and the investment environment of India as an open economy, said Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) following the September ban.

The ministry added that India has abused the concept of "national security" and adopted discriminatory restrictive measures against Chinese companies, which violated the World Trade Organization (WTO) rules.

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The ban of 43 apps by India's technology minister was initiated after 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a skirmish with Chinese troops at a disputed Himalayan border site in June [File: Euan Rocha/Reuters]

In an official press release, the Indian government said “this action was taken based on the inputs regarding these apps for engaging in activities which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order.”

The order was issued based on comprehensive reports received from Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre, the Ministry of Home Affairs, according to India Express.

The move, which India’s technology minister has referred to as a “digital strike”, was initiated after 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a skirmish with Chinese troops at a disputed Himalayan border site in June.

Aliexpress is not a major player in India’s fledgeling e-commerce market, which is led by Walmart Inc’s Flipkart and Amazon.com Inc’s local unit. It is, however, popular with some motorcycle enthusiasts and small shopkeepers, who use it to source cheap goods.

The move is another setback for Chinese giant Alibaba, which is the biggest investor in Indian fin-tech firm Paytm and also backs online grocer BigBasket, Reuters said.

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The messenger app WeChat is seen next to its logo in this illustration picture. Photo Credit: Reuters

Its subsidiary UC Web laid off staff in India earlier this year after New Delhi first banned 59 Chinese-origin mobile apps that included UC Web’s browser and two other products.

The Chinese tech giant was also forced to put on hold its plans to invest in Indian companies following the border tensions between the two nuclear armed countries, Reuters previously reported.

India’s slew of app bans has also jolted the ambitions of Chinese tech titans such as Bytedance and Tencent in the South Asian country, which is trying to reduce Beijing’s influence in its burgeoning internet economy.

China serves as India's biggest source of imports. Official data show that in 2019, the bilateral trade volume between China and India reached 639 billion yuan ($97 billion), of which India imported 515 billion yuan ($78 billion) from China, accounting for two-thirds of the total trade between the two countries, CGTN said. /.

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Rosy Huong