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How Modi govt raced against time to crack down on Chinese apps amid China’s aggression in Ladakh

On 29th June 2020, amid the Ladakh standoff, the Government of India blocked access to 59 mobile apps including TikTok over security and privacy concerns.

Amidst the border standoff with China, the Indian government cracked down on Chinese apps such as TikTok, WeChat in June last year. In order to implement the unprecedented government decision, the officials at the Information and Technology Ministry (IT) had to pull all-nighters for the extensive paperwork, reported The Times of India.

The top IT officials had received a specific brief from the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. They were tasked to finish the paperwork on time such that the announcement of the ban on Chinese apps could be made before the third round of talks between the Indian and Chinese military commanders, the report states. With the help of law officials, the IT Ministry was successful in completing the paperwork on time.

The Times of India reported that although the Chinese side had a substantial advantage along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the Modi government deviated from the ‘conventional cautious approach’ to an assertive one. With the sweeping ban on Chinese apps, the government sent out a strong message to China that their aggression, as witnessed during the violent Galwan Valley clash that claimed 20 lives of Indian soldiers, will be met with an unequivocal response.

India’s approach led to de-escalation, took the Chinese regime by surprise

The TOI reported that the Indian government’s approach to not just focus on military counters but also on political, diplomatic and economic counters took the Chinese regime by surprise. “The repeated signals that India would not step back even at the risk of a showdown with an economically and militarily stronger opponent effectively stalemated the situation,” the report emphasised.

This helped the Modi government to ease the escalated border tension at Pangong Tso. The Chinese side also failed to intrude into the Indian territory and it provided a major breakthrough in stabilising the Line of Actual Control. The nefarious plan of the Chinese regime to alter the LAC permanently did not materialise and India’s occupation of the Finger 4-8 area was crucial to counter China’s high-handedness. Although India will stay out of the area, it also implied that China too could not intrude into the territory again.

Indian government bans Chinese apps in 3 phases

On 29th June 2020, the Government of India blocked access to 59 mobile apps including TikTok. In July, the Government banned 47 apps that were operating as clones of the previously banned apps. On 2nd September 2020, the Government further blocked 118 mobile apps including PubG under the provisions provided by Section 69A of the Information Technology Act. In November last year, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Government of India (MeitY), had issued an order to ban access to an additional 43 mobile apps.

The government blocked the apps based on the inputs stating these apps were engaging in activities that are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, the security of the state, and public order. The Indian government has blocked four apps of Alibaba Group Holding Limited, also known as Alibaba Group, that are AliSuppliers Mobile App, Alibaba Workbench, AliExpress – Smarter Shopping, Better Living, and Alipay Cashier.

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