Amid the heightened tensions with China along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the Indian government on Monday took an unprecedented step and decided to ban at least 59 Chinese apps. Union Communication and information Technology minister Ravi Shankar Prasad termed the ban on Chinese apps an “a digital strike”.

The list of 59 mobile apps with their origin in China include TikTok, SHAREit, UC Browser, Baidu map, Helo, Mi Community, Club Factory, WeChat, UC News, Weibo, Xender, Meitu, Mi Video Call – Xiaomi, CamScanner, and Clean Master – Cheetah Mobile.

The order issued by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) stated that the 59 apps that have been banned by the Government of India “are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order”. The order added: “This move will safeguard the interests of crore of Indian mobile and internet users. This decision is a targeted move to ensure safety and sovereignty of Indian cyberspace.”

In the wake of the ban that we imposed, there is a great opportunity for Indian apps. Let us make this an ‘atmanirbhar bharat’. There are a large number of technological start-ups and minds that can make good apps. Let us reduce our dependence on their foreign apps that have been banned due to threats to our national security.

The list of 59 mobile apps with their origin in China now blocked by India

  1. TikTok 2. Shareit
  2. Kwai 4. UC Browser
  3. Baidu map 6. Shein
  4. Clash of Kings 8. DU battery saver
  5. Helo 10. Likee
  6. YouCam makeup 12. Mi Community
  7. CM Browers 14. Virus Cleaner
  8. APUS Browser 16. ROMWE
  9. Club Factory 18. Newsdog
  10. Beutry Plus 20. WeChat
  11. UC News 22. QQ Mail
  12. Weibo 24. Xender
  13. QQ Music 26. QQ Newsfeed
  14. Bigo Live 28. SelfieCity
  15. Mail Master 30. Parallel Space
  16. Mi Video Call – Xiaomi 32. WeSync
  17. ES File Explorer 34. Viva Video – QU Video Inc
  18. Meitu 36. Vigo Video
  19. New Video Status 38. DU Recorder
  20. Vault- Hide 40. Cache Cleaner DU App studio
  21. DU Cleaner 42. DU Browser
  22. Hago Play With New Friends 44. Cam Scanner
  23. Clean Master – Cheetah Mobile 46. Wonder Camera
  24. Photo Wonder 48. QQ Player
  25. We Meet 50. Sweet Selfie
  26. Baidu Translate 52. Vmate
  27. QQ International 54. QQ Security Center
  28. QQ Launcher 56. U Video
  29. V fly Status Video 58. Mobile Legends
  30. DU Privacy

After the usual partisan bluster surrounding this move subsides, India must operationalise and strengthen this momentous decision. India, its people, and its territory that are now increasingly digital, must be protected from China’s encroachment and influence.

To shape the motto of ‘atmanirbhar bharat’ following long term steps are essential:

  • India must not contribute to the success, proliferation and performance of digital weapons that will be ranged against it. China’s tech must be recognised as one.
  • India must wean itself away from an iniquitous trade relationship that makes it dependent on a country that seeks to harm it.
  • India needs to step out of the shadow that stunts its own economic growth, diminishes its political clout and limits its digital ambitions.

Public opinion favours this and the short-term pain will be acceptable to many. As India restarts its pandemic-stalled economy, let us create value chains that are not of dubious origin.

Against rising clamour to boycott Chinese products, several states across the country have taken to reviewing and cancelling contracts with Chinese companies.

The state government of Maharashtra has put on hold three agreements totalling over Rs 5,000 crore signed with Chinese companies at the recently held Magnetic Maharashtra 2.0 investor meet, according to a report in the Times of India. The decision to freeze Chinese projects and scrutinise investments from China has come against the backdrop of border clashes. 

Additionally, Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) cancelled the bidding process for the design, manufacture, supply, testing and commissioning of 10 monorail rakes as both bids received were from two Chinese manufacturers – China Rail Road Corporation and Build Your Dream.

Uttarakhand on Sunday also instructed its officials to list out all the Chinese companies which had been given government contracts. The spokesperson Uttarakhand government Madan Kaushik said that officials were directed to check whether the authorities in the state government have signed any contracts with Chinese authorities or companies in the past.

In a further development the central and state government will discuss ways to discourage use of Chines equipment and technology in power projects.

India is considering multiple, comprehensive measures to curtail the country’s economic reliance on China, targeting trade, investment and project services in the wake of border hostilities. These are likely to include restrictions on participation by Chinese companies in government contracts and infrastructure projects, higher tariffs on imported Chinese finished goods as also a closer review of free trade agreements that are being used by the country to export goods indirectly into India.

India will also review its free trade agreements with other countries to see if they are being used by China to access the local market.  Stringent quality standards and checks could also be introduced to contain the inflow of goods from the country.

One of the first sectors to introduce the clause could be roads and highways before it is expanded to others and eventually includes public sector units. Some bids in which Chinese companies were roped in as partners by an Indian company in the roads sector have been cancelled recently, including one in Nagpur. 

The government has moved to scrap and rework contracts floated by state-owned telecom companies BSNL and MTNL to keep out Chinese equipment suppliers over security concerns.

Railway’s telecom arm Railtel Corp of India Ltd (RCIL) has decided to issue a fresh tender with modified specifications. “EOI for selection of partner for thermal temperature screening solutions to RCIL’s customers stands cancelled with immediate effect following complaints from Indian firms that tender specifications favoured a Chinese firm, Hikvision.

India has stepped up other economic offensive against China. Chinese companies will no longer be allowed to participate in Indian highway projects, including through the joint venture route; china will not be allowed to invest in India’s micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) sector; and imports from China will be discouraged, Union minister for road transport, highways and MSME Mr Gadkari said in a statement.