India has banned another collection of Chinese apps, including the mobile version of popular game PUBG, as tensions between the two countries rise again over disputed territory along their shared border.
The country’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology announced Wednesday that it would block 118 additional apps that “are engaged in activities which [are] prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defense of India, security of state and public order.”
India had already blocked use of TikTok, the short video phenomenon from ByteDance, and scores of other apps in recent months. The list on Wednesday included two apps named “VPN for Tik Tok,” which appear to be designed to skirt the restrictions.
The decision to bar Tencent (TCEHY)’s mobile game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, or PUBG, could be especially disruptive.
PUBG was the top mobile game by monthly active users in India last year, according to analytics firm AppAnnie. In the first half of this year, PUBG was downloaded more than 54 million times in India and saw $15.2 million in consumer spending from across the country’s App Store and Google Play, according to analytics firm Sensor Tower.
Tencent and Ant Group did not espond to requests for comment Thursday on this story. Baidu declined to comment.
China on Thursday said it firmly opposes the ban.
India has “abused the concept of national security and adopted discriminatory restrictive measures against Chinese companies,” Gao Feng, spokesman for China’s Ministry of Commerce, said at a regularly scheduled press briefing.
Recent moves by India to ban Chinese apps “not only harm the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese investors and service providers, but also harm the interests of Indian consumers and the investment environment of India as an open economy,” he added.
The Global Times, a state-run tabloid, called the ban an “ill-intentioned attempt to deflect public attention away from its failure to contain a ravaging Covid-19 outbreak and a contracting economy,” citing a Chinese expert.
The moves are the latest sign that the relationship between India and China is fraying badly. The two countries, both nuclear powers, have been increasingly at odds since a deadly border clash in June.
That incident, which left 20 Indian soldiers dead, was followed by calls for calm and deescalation. But negotiations between Indian and Chinese officials failed to break ground, and the tensions have spilled over into the trading relationship, worth more than $80 billion, between the two largest powers in Asia.
The situation on the border is heating up again. Earlier this week, China accused Indian troops of illegally trespassing on Chinese territory in the Himalayas, setting the stage for another standoff.
— Sherisse Pham contributed reporting.