TikTok goes offline in India, alert says ‘complying with government directive’

Ruben Fields
July 1, 2020

He said the country has always asked Chinese firms to abide by global rules and local laws as they work with foreign parties, adding that China-India cooperation is mutually beneficial and damaging this is not in India's interest.

The banned apps include some that enable TikTok users to add visual effects and music to their posts, as well as dating apps, privacy apps and multiplayer games.

"These measures have been undertaken since there is credible information that these apps are engaged in activities which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order", said a MeitY statement.

TikTok "continues to comply with all data privacy and security requirements under Indian law and has not shared any information of our users in India with any foreign government, including the Chinese government", the company's India chief, Nikhil Gandhi, said in a statement.

TikTok, which was blocked in India for a week last year but was accessible to users who had already installed the app on their smartphones, said last year in a court filing that it was losing more than $500,000 a day. The move comes after violent border skirmishes killed at least 20 Indian soldiers in Galwan.

Among the list of newly-banned apps, Alibaba's UC Browser, Meitu's Beauty Plus camera app and Bigo's Likee video editing app are among the top 100 most downloaded apps in India, according to app intelligence firm App Annie.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a regular press briefing that China is "strongly concerned" about the announcement and looking into the situation.

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Meanwhile, people who were earning a living through Chinese apps like TikTok are trying to lift each other's spirit on social media.

"There is too much of Chinese presence in the everyday life of the average Indian", said Alka Acharya, professor of Chinese Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi.

Since the latest clash, the nuclear-armed neighbours have reinforced the border between Ladakh and Tibet.

TikTok, which has amassed over 200 million users in India, identifies Asia's third-largest economy as its biggest overseas market.

This is the first time that India, the world's second largest internet market with almost half of its 1.3 billion population online, has ordered to ban so many foreign apps.

She urged the "Indian side to change its discriminatory practices, maintain the momentum of China-India economic and trade cooperation, treat all investments and service providers equally, and create an open, fair and just business environment, while bearing in mind the fundamental interests of both sides and the overall interests of bilateral relations".

"Right now I don't think there are any easy options for New Delhi".

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