NEW DELHI: China on Thursday (September 3, 2020) said that India’s move to ban 118 more mobile applications violates the legal interests of the Chinese investors and service providers.

China’s Commerce Ministry Spokesman Gao Feng told a media briefing that Beijing is seriously concerned and resolutely opposes the ban on Chinese mobile Apps. The reaction from China came a day after the Narendra Modi government banned 118 more mobile apps with Chinese links, including popular gaming App PUBG, citing data privacy concerns and a threat to national security.

The 118 apps banned on Wednesday include Baidu, Baidu Express Edition, Alipay, Tencent Watchlist, FaceU, WeChat reading, Government WeChat, Tencent Weiyun, APUS Launcher Pro, APUS Security, Cut Cut, ShareSave by Xiaomi, and CamCard, besides PUBG Mobile and PUBG Mobile Lite, according to an official government release.

With this, the total number of Chinese-linked mobile apps banned by India has risen to 224. “The Government blocks 118 mobile apps which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, the security of the state and public order,” a statement from the Electronics and IT Ministry said.

The move comes amid fresh border tensions with China in Ladakh. The statement cited numerous complaints received by the IT Ministry from various sources, including several reports about the misuse of some mobile apps available on Android and iOS platforms for stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data to servers outside India.

“The compilation of these data, its mining and profiling by elements hostile to national security and defence of India, which ultimately impinges upon the sovereignty and integrity of India, is a matter of very deep and immediate concern which requires emergency measures,” the government release said.

Earlier on June 29, the government had banned 59 Chinese apps, including hugely popular TikTok and UC Browser, saying they were prejudicial to sovereignty, integrity and security of the country.

That ban, applicable on apps such as WeChat and Bigo Live, had come in the backdrop of a standoff along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh with Chinese troops. The June ban was followed by blocking of 47 more Chinese apps that were clones and variants of the ones banned earlier.

On Wednesday, the government said the Electronics and IT Ministry, invoking its powers under section 69A of the Information Technology Act along with relevant rules and in view of the emergent nature of threats, has decided to block the 118 mobile apps.

These apps have been blocked “in view of the information available they are engaged in activities which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, the security of the state and public order”, it said.

“The Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre, Ministry of Home Affairs has also sent an exhaustive recommendation for blocking these malicious apps. Likewise, there have been similar bipartisan concerns, flagged by various public representatives, both outside and inside the Parliament of India,” the statement said.

The latest list also includes mobile applications such as Learn Chinese AI, Hi Meitu, VPN for TikTok, Beauty Camera Plus, along with a host of gaming apps.

The move to ban the apps will safeguard the interests of crores of Indian mobile and internet users, the statement said, adding the decision is a targeted move to ensure safety, security and sovereignty of Indian cyberspace.

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