India has banned over 200 Chinese apps since June border clash

Foreign Affairs

As the India-China border conflict remained unresolved, New Delhi continued to pressure Beijing by ordering a fourth wave of Chinese app bans.

Illustration by Derek Zheng

For the fourth time since the India-China border conflict turned bloody in June, New Delhi has banned dozens of Chinese-made apps to pressure Beijing. The new order from India’s Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY), which blocks 43 Chinese-made apps, including Alibaba affiliate AliExpress, uses the same justification as the first one in June: threats to the “sovereignty and integrity of India.”

  • The two other times that India banned Chinese apps: in July, when MeitY drew up a non-public list reportedly containing 47 Chinese apps — some of which were clones of the initially banned apps — and in September, when the two sides accused each other of further provocation on the border.
  • In total, India has banned more than 200 Chinese-made apps since June. XDA Developers has compiled a list of all the banned apps in the four waves. TikTok, WeChat, and various Alibaba apps are among the previously banned apps.

India is also reportedly making moves against Beijing in other ways:

  • Regulators “started delaying approvals in August for China-made imports of devices like smartphones, smartwatches and laptops,” Reuters reports, affecting companies such as Xiaomi and products such as Chinese-made Apple iPhone 12s.
  • “India is subjecting foreign investment proposals from Hong Kong at par with China as part of a new policy that makes approval mandatory for plans from countries that share a land border,” Bloomberg reports, meaning that nearly “140 investment proposals valued at over $1.75 billion” have been “put on hold pending scrutiny.”
  • “Indian authorities have also privately warned telecom operators against working with Chinese companies in the rollout of new 5G networks,” per the Wall Street Journal.

Beijing balks, and builds

“We firmly oppose the Indian side’s repeated use of ‘national security’ as an excuse to prohibit some mobile apps with Chinese background,” a spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in India said today (in English, Chinese), urging India to “rectify the discriminatory practices violating WTO rules.”

Military talks are “deadlocked, for now,” the Tribune India recently reported. According to a Bloomberg report earlier this month, India has lost control of “about 300 square kilometers (115 square miles)” of land since the border standoff began.

Meanwhile, per CNN: “New satellite images appear to show China has built up an area in the Himalayas along a disputed border with India and Bhutan that was the site of a months-long standoff in 2017.”

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