India has banned dozens more Chinese apps, drawing a rebuke from Beijing and further straining already tense relations between the world’s most populous countries.
“We firmly oppose the Indian side’s repeated use of ‘national security’ as an excuse to prohibit some mobile apps with Chinese background,” Ji Rong, spokesperson for China’s embassy in India, said on Wednesday.
The statement followed the Indian government’s announcement on Tuesday that it was banning 43 more apps, many of them Chinese. Several apps from China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba (BABA), including shopping platform AliExpress, workplace messaging tool DingTalk and streaming site Taobao Live, are on the list. Alibaba (BABA) did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Dating apps were also hit by the ban.
“This action was taken based on the inputs regarding these apps for engaging in activities which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defense of India, security of state and public order,” India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said in a statement.
In its response, the Chinese embassy said Beijing has always required Chinese companies operating overseas to abide by international rules and comply with local laws.
Indian officials have now banned more than 200 mostly Chinese apps — including the wildly popular video platform TikTok — in the last five months.
Relations between India and China have been frayed 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 make progress, and the tensions have spilled over into the trading relationship, worth more than $80 billion, between the two largest powers in Asia.
Many Indians had called for a boycott of Chinese goods and services, particularly from China’s dominant tech industry.
Beijing again pushed back on the pressure campaign on Wednesday, calling on India “to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of international investors, including Chinese companies,” a spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry said.
“The Indian side should immediately correct this discriminatory practice, so as to not bring more damage to the cooperation between the two sides,” the spokesperson added.
— Swati Gupta and Shawn Deng contributed to this report.