“Although the decision is based on the fact the new apps are the clones of the previously banned apps, we believe that this signals a strong intent from the Indian government’s point of view on their stand about data security and privacy,” said Tarun Pathak, associate director at Counterpoint Research. “This will surely open up a lot of discussion about other apps as well.”
The moves are the latest sign of deterioration in the India-China relationship. Last week, India restricted neighboring countries from bidding on public contracts, citing “grounds of defense of India” and “national security.” The restrictions, which carved out exemptions for Bangladesh, Myanmar and Nepal, were largely viewed as aimed at China.
Geopolitical tensions between the two countries continue to escalate after deadly border clashes last month left at least 20 Indian soldiers dead. Many Indians have called for a boycott of Chinese goods and services, particularly from China’s dominant tech industry.
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not respond to a faxed request for comment on the new app ban. Earlier this month, the ministry pushed back on India’s initial decision to ban Chinese apps.
Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry, told reporters in early July that the government was “strongly concerned” about the ban. He said that authorities were still “checking and verifying information on the situation,” but added that it was India’s responsibility to “uphold the legitimate rights of international investors.”