Denying naysayers the benefit of doubt, the Indian government has proved that the decision to ban Chinese apps is indeed set to be reckoned as a major decision to hit the Chinese economy. The banning of the popular TikTok and 58 other Chinese apps will cause huge financial losses to all these companies with ByteDance – TikTok’s parent company – expected to suffer a loss of Rs 45,000 crore (USD 6 billion).
China’s state-run media The Global Times has itself reported that ByteDance could lose up to USD 6 billion as a result of the Indian government’s decision to ban TikTok, Helo and several other Chinese apps due to security issues.
Interestingly, India wasn’t the major source of revenue for TikTok but it was among the top nations to have most downloads for the app. Global Times reported that ByteDance had invested over USD 1 billion in the Indian market in the last few years and the ban could prove disastrous for the company’s business in India. Global Times claimed that ByteDance’s loss would exceed the potential losses of all the other apps combined.
Sensor Twoer, a mobile app analysis company, has said in a recent report that TikTok was downloaded 112 million times in May, with 20 percent of that total in the Indian market.
The Indian government on Monday banned 59 apps with China links including TikTok, SHAREit, UC Browser, Baidu map, Helo, Mi Community, Club Factory, WeChat and UC News in view of the information available that they were engaged in activity “which is prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, the security of the state and public order”.
Union Law, Electronics and Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad justified the decision saying the government has banned apps for safety, security, defence, sovereignty and integrity of India.
“For safety, security, defence, sovereignty & integrity of India and to protect data & privacy of people of India the Government has banned 59 mobile apps. Jai Hind!,” he said in a tweet.
The Indian government took the decision few days after a violent face-off in Ladakh’s Galwan valley between the Indian and Chinese soldiers which resulted in the martyrdom of 20 Indian soldiers while the Chinese side suffered 43 casualties including dead and seriously injured. The immediate move of the Indian government is seen as a retaliatory measure to protest the offensive.
Experts have often voiced that instead of mounting a military retaliation, the better option for India is to improve her own economic and human development indices, which will naturally subdue Chinese prominence. India is a huge market for Chinese goods and a comprehensive ban on them can lead to a major loss to the Chinese economy. The way forward is to make India more self-reliant and less dependent on cheap imports. The banning of apps may be just an indication of India’s resolve and its future course of action. This will force China to rethink its strategy and be cautious of its moves because greater aggression can bleed it badly.