Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s account on Chinese microblogging website Weibo went blank on Wednesday after his photograph, posts and comments were removed from the handle, the Hindustan Times reported. While the newspaper said it could not be ascertained as to when the data was taken down, the disclosure came two days after India blocked 59 apps linked to China.
Modi’s Weibo account was set up in 2015, before he visited China for the first time as prime minister. The account had over 2.44 lakh followers, many of them Chinese. Modi’s posts on Weibo were in Mandarin. He used the account to post about China-India relations following meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping. The Indian prime minister also wished Xi on his birthday every year on June 15 via Weibo, except this year.
The Indian prime minister had 115 posts on Weibo, NDTV reported quoting unidentified officials. These had to be taken down manually because Weibo uses a complex procedure to delete posts by VIPs. It also does not allow deleting posts with pictures of Xi, which made the task of removing Modi’s posts more difficult.
A unidentified official told NDTV that the process to deactivate Modi’s account has been initiated. “For reasons best known to the Chinese, there was a great delay in granting this basic permission,” they added.
Diplomatic relations between India and China have soured after a violent clash between soldiers of the two countries in Ladakh along the Line of Actual Control on June 15. At least 20 Indian soldiers died in the clash, and 76 were wounded. China also admitted to suffering casualties, but did not specify the number.
Following the incident, there were protests against China and Chinese-made goods in India, and calls for banning such goods. On June 29, India blocked several China-linked apps, including TikTok, WeChat and Cam Scanner, citing security concerns. On June 30, the Chinese embassy in New Delhi said India’s decision to “selectively and discriminatorily” ban 59 apps abuses national security exceptions and may violate World Trade Organization rules.