Cyber Security

India rejects China’s WTO argument after 59 Apps ban

Photo: India’s external affairs ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava.

By Amit Agnihotri

New Delhi: Days after banning 59 China Apps over data security, India today rejected the Asian giant’s contention that the move may be against rules of international trade.

The June 29 move by India came in response to the Chinese double standards, as it continued to display military aggression along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern parts of Union Territory of Ladakh, while talking peace during diplomatic negotiations to de-escalate border tensions.

The ban on 59 Apps, some of which were earning significant revenues from India, hurt the Chinese establishment where it was intended to. As expected, the Asian giant came up with fallacious arguments on June 30 that the Indian move was suspected to be going against World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.

India today played upon its strength of being the world’s largest digital space market, with over 680 million subscribers, and in a blunt message, told China that several large information technology companies are operating in the country and were following the domestic data security rules.

“India is an open regime for foreign direct investment and is an investor friendly regime. We are the world’s largest digital space market with over 680 million subscribers. Large Information Technology companies are operating in India and need to abide by rules related to data security,” India’s Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said, when asked for a response to the Chinese statement over the Apps ban issue.

“India’s measure selectively and discriminatorily aims at certain Chinese apps on ambiguous and far-fetched grounds, runs against fair and transparent procedure requirements, abuses national security exceptions and (is suspected of) violating WTO rules,” Ji Rong, spokesperson for the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in New Delhi, had said in a statement.

The ban on Apps like TikTok, UC Browser, Shareit and CamScanner is expected to hit significant Chinese investments. With more than 600 million downloads, India accounts for 30 percent of TikTok’s two billion downloads worldwide. Its parent company, ByteDance, had last year hired several senior executives and laid out plans to invest $1 billion in India.

As per some estimates, TikTok alone could suffer a loss of $6 billion due to the ban, and the parent company’s valuation could fall by $35 billion to $40 billion, according to other back-of-the-envelope estimates. For the others, the move is certain to be shocker for Chinese businesses.

The move to ban apps is in consonance with growing public anger among Indians to ban Chinese products in the domestic market. These sentiments are a direct result of the Chinese aggression in Ladakh since May. Consequent to the ban, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also decided to quit his account on Chinese social media platform, Weibo.

Earlier, there were reports of a possible cyber attack originating from China on key Indian networks.

The border face-off between the two armies started when the People’s Liberation Army violated the LAC by pushing troops, pitching tents and erecting defence structures and even led to the June 15 deadly clashes in the Galwan Valley in which 20 Indian soldiers lost their lives and around 40 PLA troops too suffered casualty.

India’s attempts to convince China to uphold the sanctity of the LAC have failed to convince the Asian giant. The latest marathon talks between the two senior army commanders took place on June 30 where a blueprint for de-escalations appears to have been chalked out, but its implementation needs to be watched carefully.

Meanwhile, as a counter balancing measure, India too has moved additional troops to the Galwan Valley region to match the Chinese aggression and is keeping an eye on the PLA movements.

Srivasatva expressed the hope that the Chinese side would expeditiously implement the understanding reached between senior army officers on June 6 so that peace and tranquillity is restored on the border. “The two sides will continue to talk,” he said.

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