News, Culture & Society

India bans 47 more Chinese apps, weeks after blocking TikTok and 58 others over security fears 

India has banned 47 more Chinese apps just weeks after blocking the highly popular video-sharing platform TikTok and 58 others over national security and privacy concerns, an Indian information ministry official and media reports said Monday.

Tensions between the world’s two most-populous nations soared last month after a Himalayan border clash that left 20 Indian troops dead and an unknown number of Chinese casualties.

‘We have banned 47 mobile apps from China in this ongoing exercise which highlights the government’s seriousness about data privacy and security,’ the official, who asked to remain anonymous, told news agency AFP.

India banned TikTok and dozens of other Chinese mobile apps in June and has now added another 47 to the list, citing national security and privacy concerns. Many of the apps that have been included in the second round of bans are ‘lite’ versions of ones from the first round, including the ‘lite’ version of TikTok (pictured, file photo)

‘The order was issued on Friday. Most of these 47 apps are banned for the same reasons as the earlier 59, and many were lite versions or variants of the earlier banned applications.’

Chinese apps Included in the latest ban are Tiktok Lite, Helo Lite, SHAREit Lite, BIGO LIVE Lite and VFY, however a full list of the 47 apps was not immediately available. 

There has been no official statement or order released by the government about the ban but it has been widely reported across major Indian media.

Anti-China sentiment has soared since the deadly fight in mid-June, which sparked street protests and calls for Chinese products to be banned in the nation of 1.3 billion people.

Local media on Monday said 275 other Chinese apps could also be on the chopping block over similar concerns, including the hugely popular ‘PUBG Mobile’ game owned by tech giant Tencent.

China exports more than 3,000 products to India, from toys, cosmetics and handbags to home appliances, pharma, auto components, and steel.

Furthermore, Chinese internet companies are believed to have roughly 300 million unique users in India, suggesting that nearly two-thirds of the country’s smartphone users have downloaded a Chinese app.

Chinese apps Included in the latest ban are Tiktok Lite, Helo Lite, SHAREit Lite, BIGO LIVE Lite and VFY, however a full list of the 47 apps was not immediately available. TikTok (file photo) has denied that it is sharing user data the Chinese government

 Chinese apps Included in the latest ban are Tiktok Lite, Helo Lite, SHAREit Lite, BIGO LIVE Lite and VFY, however a full list of the 47 apps was not immediately available. TikTok (file photo) has denied that it is sharing user data the Chinese government

On June 29, India banned 59 apps – including one of the world’s most popular social media apps TikTok – after the June 15 deadly border conflict between the nuclear-armed neighbours India and China which saw 20 Indian soldiers lose their lives during hand-to-hand combat. 

Among others that were included in the first round of bans included ShareIt, UCBrowser, Club Factory and CamScanner, with India’s Information and Technology ministry saying they were ‘prejudicial to the sovereignty, integrity,’ and defence of India. 

‘The Ministry of Information Technology has received many complaints from various sources, including several reports about misuse of some mobile apps available on Android and iOS platforms for stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data in an unauthorised manner to servers which have locations outside India,’ the government had said in a statement on June 29. 

The ban on the mostly Chinese apps comes after a deadly border conflict on June 15 between nuclear-armed neighbours India and China, in the northern Ladakh region, which saw 20 Indian soldiers lose their lives during hand-to-hand combat. Pictured: A satellite image of the Line of Actual Control - the border between India and China where the conflict occurred

The ban on the mostly Chinese apps comes after a deadly border conflict on June 15 between nuclear-armed neighbours India and China, in the northern Ladakh region, which saw 20 Indian soldiers lose their lives during hand-to-hand combat. Pictured: A satellite image of the Line of Actual Control – the border between India and China where the conflict occurred

WHAT IS TIK TOK? 

The Beijing based social network has more than 500 million active users and the company is now worth more than $75 billion (£58 billion)

 The Beijing based social network has more than 500 million active users and the company is now worth more than $75 billion (£58 billion)

TikTok is a Chinese social media app where users can live stream, create short videos and music videos and Gifs with a host of functions. 

TikTok’s tagline is ‘Make every second count’.

It was the most downloaded app in the US in 2018 and the world’s fourth most downloaded app in 2018, ahead of Instagram and Snapchat.

TikTok is known in China as Douyin where it was launched in 2016 and then made more widely available around the world in 2017.  

Douyin is still the version of the app used in China, available to download separately to TikTok.

The app was merged with popular music video lip-syncing app Musical.ly, also with headquarters in China. 

Most children use the app to film themselves lip-syncing to chart hits. 

It offers users a raft if colourful modification and editing tools including overlaying music, sound, animated stickers, filters and augmented reality (AR) for creating short videos. 

The Beijing based social network has more than 500 million active users and the company is now worth more than $75 billion (£58 billion).  

How does it work?

Users post videos of themselves and broadcast them on the app.

Anyone can find these videos and post comments on them.

It also allows you to message that person privately.

Some of the most popular videos are watched more than 10 million times.

Each TikTok video is generally 15 to 60 seconds long.

The videos are typically set to music, often showing the user dancing, doing a trick, or lip-syncing. 

Firms were also asked to clarify their data sharing norms under a Chinese law that requires Chinese companies to share information with the country’s intelligence agencies – regardless of where they operate.

The Indian ministry did not reference the border conflict in its statement announcing the initial ban, or the fact that many of the banned apps were developed by Chinese companies in their statement.

The ministry said in June that several complaints of data theft and privacy violation led to the decision to ban the 59 apps – though no date for the ban to take effect has been confirmed.

It is estimated that 120million people in India use TikTok – owned by Chinese company ByteDance – making the country the biggest international market for the app.

Following the first round of bans, TikTok denied sharing Indian users’ data with the Chinese government. 

‘TikTok continues to comply with all data privacy and security requirements under Indian law and have not shared any information of our users in India with any foreign government, including the Chinese government,’ TikTok India chief Nikhil Gandhi said in a statement. 

The Indian soldiers were killed in a brawl along the disputed border in northern Ladakh region on June 15 in the deadliest faceoff for almost half a century between the two countries.

No firearms were involved in the dispute because the two nations hold an understanding that troops on both side of the border in the region will not use guns.

The two countries previously fought a war over their shared border in 1962 and the deaths in the most recent clash are the first on the frontier since 1975.

Street protests took place in India following the deaths of the 20 soldiers and calls have been made to ban Chinese businesses which export almost £49billion to India.

Beijing has denied accusations from New Delhi that Chinese forces entered Indian territory.

Now, both sides have said they are trying to resolve the dispute through dialogue, but thousands of soldiers remain on alert.    

Following the public backlash, one of Delhi’s main hotel associations said that its members were barring Chinese guests and would stop using Chinese-made products.

Chinese electronic firms also have a major presence in India, with cellphone brands like Xiaomi and Oppo enjoying an almost 65-percent market share.

E-commerce giants including US giant Amazon – which sell huge volumes of Chinese gadgets – have agreed to display the country of origin of goods on their platforms, according to media reports.

Pictured: Anti-China protesters in India demonstrate against China following the fighting on June 15 which saw 20 Indian soldiers die. Some are calling for the boycott of Chinese goods, however the two nations are both heavily reliant on one-another for trade

Pictured: Anti-China protesters in India demonstrate against China following the fighting on June 15 which saw 20 Indian soldiers die. Some are calling for the boycott of Chinese goods, however the two nations are both heavily reliant on one-another for trade

India claimed that after their soldiers were savaged with nail-studded clubs (pictured) and the Chinese People's Liberation Army mutilated their corpses. No bullets were fired as per a peace treaty which bars firearms within 2km of the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the line drawn down the 17,000ft valley after India's defeat in the 1962 Sino-Indian War

India claimed that after their soldiers were savaged with nail-studded clubs (pictured) and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army mutilated their corpses. No bullets were fired as per a peace treaty which bars firearms within 2km of the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the line drawn down the 17,000ft valley after India’s defeat in the 1962 Sino-Indian War

Modi’s government has also ordered all sellers to do the same on its GeM portal, which is used for tens of billions of dollars’ worth of state purchases.

Goods made in China, including some raw materials vital to Indian pharmaceutical firms, are also starting to pile up at Indian ports and airports because of more stringent customs checks, media reports said.

Despite long-prickly relations, India and China have steadily built up strong economic ties in recent years.

Annual bilateral trade is worth some £70 billion, with a deficit of around £39 billion in China’s favour. 

Patch of uninhabitable desert that India and China have been fighting over for centuries 

The Himalayan border between India and China has been disputed for centuries, but the two countries have been fighting over it most recently since the 1960s.

In the 18th century it was fought over by the Russian, Chinese and British empires, and after India gained independence ownership of the region became more confused.

China values the region because it provides a trading route to Pakistan, and recent hostilities have been sparked by fears in Beijing that India will cut it off from the crucial overland corridor.

The current official border between the two was set by Britain and is known as the McMahon line. It is recognised by India but not by China.

In reality, the border between the two countries is on Line of Actual Control (LAC) where Indian and Chinese forces finished after the Sino-Indian War of 1962.

At least 20 Indian soldiers, including a colonel, were killed and at least 43 Chinese men were wounded or killed last Monday night along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), a disputed border in the Himlayas (the red territory is controlled by India, and the beige and grey stripes, Aksai Chin, is Chinese but claimed by India, the white line which surrounds is what Indian believes its border should be, whereas the black line was agreed after then 1962 Sino-Indian War - a heavy defeat for India)

At least 20 Indian soldiers, including a colonel, were killed and at least 43 Chinese men were wounded or killed last Monday night along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), a disputed border in the Himlayas (the red territory is controlled by India, and the beige and grey stripes, Aksai Chin, is Chinese but claimed by India, the white line which surrounds is what Indian believes its border should be, whereas the black line was agreed after then 1962 Sino-Indian War – a heavy defeat for India)

Aksai Chin, the site of the latest tensions, is located in India according to the official border but is claimed as part of the Chinese region of Xinjiang by Beijing.

It is an almost uninhabited high-altitude scrubland traversed by the Xinjiang-Tibet Highway.

The other disputed territory is hundreds of miles away to the east of Tibet.

The 1962 Sino-Indian War was fought on these two frontiers as Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru put it, a struggle over land where ‘not even a blade of grass grows.’ 

In addition to the disputed border, China had seized Tibet ten years before and accused India of trying to to subvert Beijing’s interests by granting asylum to the Dalai Lama.

There was also a Cold War element and India wanted to see if the US would back it in a confrontation against communist China.

Delhi had ignored the desolate corner of the subcontinent which allowed the Chinese to build a military road through it during the 1950s to connect the province of Xinjiang to Tibet.

The Indian discovery of this highway was a major factor which led to ferocious clashes leading up to the war. 

Yet the Indians had just two divisions posted at the border when the Chinese invaded, never suspecting that Beijing would be so bold as to cross the McMahon Line. 

The war lasted for one month and left more than 2,000 dead on both sides. It was a heavy defeat for India and led to the new border, the LAC, being established and pushing India back from McMahon line.

Uninhabitable desert: The Galwan Valley where the mass brawl between the Indian and Chinese forces took place. The Chinese interest in the region surrounds President Xi Jinping's centrepiece 'Belt and Road' policy to have vast infrastructure throughout the old Silk Road. Beijing fears that increased Indian presence in the region will cut off its trade route to Pakistan

Uninhabitable desert: The Galwan Valley where the mass brawl between the Indian and Chinese forces took place. The Chinese interest in the region surrounds President Xi Jinping’s centrepiece ‘Belt and Road’ policy to have vast infrastructure throughout the old Silk Road. Beijing fears that increased Indian presence in the region will cut off its trade route to Pakistan

Much of the reason for the ongoing conflict is the ill-defined border, the result of a confused status the region had during the colonial era, which was made more murky by India’s war with Pakistan in 1947.

Chinese interest in the region surrounds President Xi Jinping’s centrepiece ‘Belt and Road’ foreign policy to have vast infrastructure throughout the old Silk Road. 

Beijing fears that increased Indian presence in the region will cut off its trade route to Pakistan.

The two sides have blamed each other for recent hostilities but analysts say India’s building of new roads in the region may have been the fuse for May’s standoff.

Both sides have dispatched reinforcements and heavy equipment to the zone. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk