External Affairs

A Day After India Bans Chinese Apps, Beijing Says Move Possibly 'Violates WTO Rules'

China has said that the move is based on "ambiguous and far-fetched grounds".

New Delhi: Expressing serious concern at India’s ban on Chinese mobile phone applications, China on Tuesday said that the move was discriminatory, impacted the employment of Indian creators and possibly violated rules of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

On Monday, India’s Ministry of Information Technology announced a ban on 59 mobile phone apps run by Chinese technology companies on privacy and national security grounds. The move came as India and China are locked in a military stand-off at multiple points on their boundary, which has already caused the first casualties ever in 45 years. The list of banned Chinese apps includes TikTok and UC Browser which had been downloaded by millions of Indians. 

The first response came from the Chinese foreign ministry in Beijing on Tuesday morning. “The Indian government has the responsibility to protect the legitimate rights and interests of international investors in India, including Chinese businesses, in accordance with market principles,” said spokesperson Zhao Lijian.

Stating that practical cooperation between China and India has been mutually beneficial, Zhao stated, “Such a pattern has been artificially undermined and it is not in the interest of the Indian side”.

A few hours later, the Chinese embassy in New Delhi issued a longer, detailed statement.

“India’s measure, selectively and discriminatorily aims at certain Chinese apps on ambiguous and far-fetched grounds, runs against fair and transparent procedure requirements, abuses national security exceptions, and suspects of violating the WTO rules,” said embassy spokesperson Ji Rong.

She stated that the move “also goes against the general trend of international trade and e-commerce, and is not conducive to consumer interests and the market competition in India”.

The spokesperson stated that the mobile apps had been “operating strictly in accordance with Indian laws and regulations” and provided “efficient and fast services for Indian consumers, creators and entrepreneurs”.

“The ban will affect not only the employment of local Indian workers who support these apps, but also the interests of Indian users and the employment and livelihoods of many creators and entrepreneurs,” she asserted.

Echoing the Chinese foreign ministry’s earlier remarks, Ji said that China expects India to acknowledge the “mutually beneficial nature of China-India economic and trade cooperation”.

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”.