India Bans 118 Chinese Mobile Apps Including PUBG

Srimayee Sen Sarma

September 25, 2020

China’s encroachment of territories is nothing new. The country has been in territorial disputes over land and sea with all of its neighboring countries including India, Nepal, Taiwan and the Philippines.

The recent border tension between China and India saw the latter taking a drastic step. In an unprecedented move, India has banned some Chinese mobile applications from operating in the country. The decision was made fearing data leakage and security breach by China.

India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said that this move was made under the threat that the apps “are engaged in activities which [are] prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defense of India, the security of the state and public order.”

Considering how big the Indian market is for mobile applications, it is a move that can have a great impact on China.

India’s digital detox of Chinese apps

India has banned as many as 118 Chinese apps following the tension between the two countries at the Line of Actual Control (LAC). The list consists of some of the biggest money churning Chinese apps including TikTok, WeChat, Alipay and Baidu.

However, the ban of none of the apps has possibly been as disruptive as India’s ban on Player Unknown’s Battleground, better known as PUBG. As per a report published by Sensor Tower, PUBG was the top-grossing mobile game globally in July 2020. India ranked ‘numero uno’ in terms of PUBG downloads and accounted for around 175 million installs. Banning PUBG is not only a blow to the lovers of the game in India, it is same for Tencent, a Chinese company that is also the developer of PUBG mobile.

PUBG and Chinese connection

Can the connection between PUBG and the fear of data breach by China be a bit far-fetched? Maybe, considering that the game was first created by an Irish developer for a South Korean gaming company, Bluehole. Seeing the huge popularity of the game, Tencent Games – a part of Chinese giant Tencent Holdings – developed its mobile version.

In an anticlimactic move, though, PUBG mobile was banned in China because of its violent nature. And, even though Tencent is the second-largest stakeholder at Bluehole (11.5%), it has limited control on the gaming app.

However, regardless of the ownership or stakes in the mobile game, and whether or not the data is being used by China, the ban in India is a blow to Tencent as a company that is for sure.

Giving the benefit of doubt to Tencent that PUBG app is not stealing user data for China, the other apps might not be so innocent after all. So, India’s move to ban the 118 Chinese apps can be hailed as smart – protecting the country while also hitting back at China businesses.

China under pressure

After India’s move, the US also followed suit and announced the ban of two very popular Chinese apps TikTok and WeChat, citing data protection and security as reasons. If other countries do the same following the examples of these two superpowers, China would come under immense pressure.

Of course, at the time of this story going to print, the situation with TikTok is rather fluid in the US. President Donald Trump could rescind his blessings of the deal between Oracle and ByteDance to create a new U.S. based TikTok service, called TikTok Global, if the Chinese company retains control of the operation, according to AdAge.

China has opposed the ban in India firmly. It is to be seen how this already deteriorating relationship between the two neighbors goes in future. So would TikTok also end up getting banned in the US if President Trump doesn’t get his way? Only time will tell.

Sources: The News Minute, The Print, digit, Hindustan Times, CNN Business & AdAge

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About the author
Srimayee Sen Sarma

Contributing Author

Srimayee has over 10 years of experience in creating content. Driven by her passion for writing, She has had her articles published with a byline in newspapers, magazines, blogs, and websites. Her other passions include reading, gardening and traveling.

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