The Chinese Embassy in India on Tuesday said New Delhi’s decision to “selectively and discriminatorily” ban 59 apps with Chinese links “on ambiguous and far-fetched grounds” abuses national security exceptions and may violate World Trade Organisation rules. “It also goes against the general trend of international trade and e-commerce, and is not conducive to consumer interests and the market competition in India,” spokesperson Ji Rong said.

Rong’s comments came a day after the Indian government blocked the apps that “are engaged in activities which is prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order”. Some of the apps that have been blocked are TikTok, WeChat, UC Browser, Weibo, Cam Scanner and Xiaomi’s Mi Video Call.

Rong added that the deleted apps had a large user base in India and they had been “operating strictly in accordance with Indian laws and regulations” and had provided “efficient and fast services for Indian consumers, creators and entrepreneurs”. “The ban will affect not only the employment of local Indian workers who support these apps but also the interests of Indian users and the employment and livelihoods of many creators and entrepreneurs,” he said.

“We expect India acknowledges the mutually beneficial nature of China-India economic and trade cooperation, and urge the Indian side to change its discriminatory practices, maintain the momentum of China-India economic and trade cooperation, treat all investments and service providers equally, and create an open, fair and just business environment while bearing in mind the fundamental interests of both sides and the overall interests of bilateral relations,” Rong added.

The ban order by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology came two weeks after 20 Indian soldiers were killed and 76 wounded in a violent clash with their Chinese counterparts in Ladakh along the Line of Actual Control. The ministry said that it has received complaints from various sources about misuse of some mobile apps available on Android and iOS platforms, which steal and transfer users’ data in an unauthorised manner to locations outside India. The ministry added that this situation requires “emergency measures”.

On Tuesday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry had also said the country was strongly concerned about the situation after India banned the apps. “China is strongly concerned, verifying the situation,” said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian. He added that India has the responsibility to uphold the “legitimate and legal rights” of international investors.

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