As Ladakh border situation escalates, India bans 118 more Chinese apps

India bans 118 more Chinese apps. (Photo courtesy: IBN)

(, Sep03’20) – With the situation on the Ladakh border between India and Chinese ruled Tibet only getting worse despite ongoing talks at different levels over several months, New Delhi has on Sep 2 banned 118 more Chinese apps, some of which are highly lucrative to their Chinese owners, including the popular multiplayer game PUBG. Announcing the bans, India’s Information and Technology Ministry said it had received many complaints 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 compilation of these data, its mining and profiling by elements hostile to national security and defence of India, which ultimately impinges upon the sovereignty and integrity of India, is a matter of very deep and immediate concern which requires emergency measures,” the government said in its order.

New Delhi’s latest move came after it had issued a similar ban on Chinese 59 apps in June.

PUBG (PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds) was launched as a computer game by South Korean company Bluehole in 2017, but its mobile version was published by Chinese conglomerate Tencent a year later.

“PUBG Mobile was by far the biggest game in India, both by downloads and revenue. The game has been downloaded nearly 200 million times in the country, with the Lite version being the most popular,” the Sep 3 quoted Daniel Ahmad, who covers the video games market in China and Asia as a senior analyst at Niko Partners, as saying. “The ban will not only impact players of the game but the fast-growing esports and influencer ecosystem in India.”

The ban is expected to impact Tencent’s presence in India. “Excluding China, nearly 40 per cent of downloads for the game in the past year were from India”, Ahmad has said, adding, however, “We do not expect a significant material impact on revenue as India only accounted for 3% of the game’s revenue excluding China.”

PUBG did not receive a licence to launch even in China, and Tencent had to create a new version called Peacekeeper Elite (Game for Peace) with minor tweaks (removal of blood, corpses) for official release, the report noted.

The latest decision, which was widely expected in view of the tough stance of the Indian government against Chinese-controlled entities, squeezes the dominance of China in the Indian internet and apps space and deals their global valuations another blow, reported the Sep 3. They include such popular apps as TikTok, UC Browser, Helo, Likee, Shareit, Mi Community, WeChat, Baidu, CamScanner, and now PUBG.

Saying the move would safeguard the interests of crores of Indian mobile and internet users, India has termed the decision “a targeted move to ensure safety, security and sovereignty of Indian cyberspace.”

This is the third round of crackdown by the government on Chinese-linked applications following the Galwan Valley clashes in June in which 20 Indian soldiers were killed, noted Sep 3. It noted that Last month, India imposed another ban on 47 mostly clone apps from China.

The report said India’s prohibitions had 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 late August.

China’s commerce ministry has strongly opposed India banning Chinese mobile apps. The actions by India violate the legal interests of Chinese investors and services providers and it should correct its mistakes, Reuters Sep 3 cited China’s commerce ministry spokesman Gao Feng as saying at a briefing.

India has abused “national security” by imposing discriminate restrictions on Chinese companies and India’s action violates relevant WTO rules, China’s party mouthpiece the Sep 3 quoted Gao as saying.


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