The Government of India on June 29 banned 59 Chinese apps including popular ones such as TikTok and WeChat, citing national security concerns. Many also speculate that the move is a retaliatory response to the stand-off with China along the LAC that left 20 Indian soldiers dead
Although the ban may not lead to a massive financial crisis in China, it does put some economic pressure on the nation, since these apps have lost their biggest external market. A large part of the Indian population accessed these apps regularly. TikTok, for example, was downloaded around 600 million times in India. Reports from CNN suggest that India, the fastest growing digital market in the world, is expected to grow by 27% in 2021 alone. Limited or no access to this market would certainly be a blow to Chinese apps and software. Also, banning these Chinese apps might very well be signaling the start of the Indian government’s plan to boycott various other Chinese software and hardware in an attempt to limit India’s dependence on China. As our domestic tech industry flourishes and more people get access to the internet, these measures could prove detrimental for China in the long run.
Domestic businesses, on the contrary, have welcomed the government’s decision. Indian app creators are using the opportunity to introduce their own apps, video chatting interfaces, and content creating platforms as alternatives to TikTok, etc. With now open markets, Indian social networks will have a greater chance of standing out and being downloaded by millions more.
The ban, especially on TikTok, wasn’t widely appreciated by many citizens who had lost their only means of showcasing their talents to a global audience. India along with the rest of the world has reached a point where a lot of the content that we are consuming is coming from streaming outlets or social media rather than conventional television. Hence, the popularization of Indian alternatives is quite likely as the thousands of content creators who found fame through TikTok will be desperate to experiment with new platforms in hopes of restoring their lost fame.
Overall, the ban has rightly tackled the pressing issue of national security. It further gives Indian developers the space to create ground-breaking apps that have the potential of gaining national and international recognition. And start-ups are hopeful that the Prime Minister’s ‘Make in India’ initiative will provide the necessary resources to do so.
As of today, there hasn’t been any confirmation on whether Chinese apps are going to be banned in other countries, however, many seem to now be following in India’s footsteps. Australia has also banned the app for the purpose of national security and the US as of the 14th of August has given Tik Tok’s parent company 90 days to sell Tik Tok to an American buyer. America, like India, is also looking to delete other Chinese apps like ‘we chat’.