Why does India recklessly focus on blocking Chinese apps?

Source: Global Times Published: 2020/9/3 19:45:57

Illustration: Tang Tengfei/GT

Right after Indian troops once again illegally crossed the Line of Actual Control, New Delhi on Wednesday imposed a new ban on a swath of Chinese apps, showing reckless intention to further decouple with China economically. The move is a double-edged sword which will cause losses to both China and India, while offering a perfect opportunity for the US to take over the market.

Another 118 Chinese apps were banned by Indian authorities under the disguise of "national security threat", including Baidu, AliPay, WeChat Work and popular mobile game PUBG, bringing total number of banned Chinese apps in India to 224, after 59 were banned in June and 47 in July. 

With years of investment, Chinese mobile applications had enjoyed great popularity in the Indian market. For instance, Chinese video platform TikTok had been downloaded more than 2 billion times globally in which Indians had downloaded the app 611 million times, per data from an industry analysis platform Sensor Tower in April. 

Among the latest ban list, the mobile game PUBG had nearly 33 million active players in India, making it one of the most popular apps downloaded in the country, according to local news outlet Hindustan Times.

Alongside repeated moves to undermine the peace and stability on the China-India border area in the recent months, India has been recklessly taking measures to confront China in economic areas, such as banning Chinese apps, prolonging clearance procedure of containers shipped from China, and restricting foreign companies from participating in public procurement bids which has been regarded as targeting Chinese firms.

Blocking Chinese apps has been one of its major moves that have drawn huge attention. Earlier reports said that India has drawn up a list of 275 Chinese apps that it will examine for any violation of national security and user privacy. 

Actual reasons lurking behind the highly symbolic move are New Delhi's intention to antagonize China and cause losses to Chinese investors. It is true that related Chinese firms will bare huge losses, however, the ban is a double-edged sword for India.

Although India has a relatively high potential in software development and other fields, its IT industries lack of sufficient capital support to grow independently since start-up IT firms normally need massive capital facilitation. China and the US have been two major investors in India's IT sectors. With ample accumulation of capital, technology and experience in emerging markets, Chinese investors have built advantages over American investors in India.

A cooperative approach with Chinese capital is in line with the development of India's IT industries in the long run. 

In the wake of the comprehensive ban of Chinese apps, American capital which had lost advantage in the market will embrace the rosy opportunity to squeeze in and take over Chinese investors' market share.

For instance, Alibaba's mobile payment platform Alipay has been banned, while Facebook's WhatsApp has been reportedly trialing a payment service in India.

The article was compiled based on an interview with Zhao Gancheng, director of the Center for Asia-Pacific Studies at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies. bizopinion@globaltimes.com.cn


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