Beijing is pushing back on a decision by India to ban dozens of Chinese mobile apps as tensions between the countries continue to rise.
Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry, told reporters on Tuesday that the government was “strongly concerned” about the ban. He added that authorities were still “checking and verifying information on the situation.”
India announced Monday that it would block 59 Chinese apps including TikTok, Weibo and WeChat, claiming that the platforms posed a threat to the “sovereignty and integrity of India, defense of India, security of state and public order.”
WeChat, a messaging app that is owned by Chinese tech giant Tencent, is one of China’s biggest social media apps. Weibo is a microblogging platform similar to Twitter.
The move is the latest indication of escalating tensions between India and China, which engaged earlier this month in border clashes in the Himalayas that left at least 20 Indian soldiers dead.
The clash has already caused hiccups in international trade, the suspension of business deals and calls for a boycott of Chinese goods and citizens in India. Last week, several trade organizations said that Chinese shipments were being held up at Indian checkpoints.
The trading trading relationship between the two is vital, with India importing more goods from China than any other country. Now, the spat is spilling over into technology.
India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said in a statement Monday that it had received many complaints about the misuse and transmission of user data by some mobile apps to servers outside India.
“The compilation of these data, its mining and profiling by elements hostile to national security and defense of India … is a matter of very deep and immediate concern which requires emergency measures,” the agency said.
TikTok, the hugely popular video platform owned by Chinese tech giant ByteDance, has been downloaded onto Indian phones 660 million times since its launch in 2017, according to analytics firm Sensor Tower.
This is not the first time TikTok has run into trouble in India. The app was briefly blocked in the country last year after a court ruled that it could expose children to sexual predators, pornography and cyber bullying. It was later reinstated after a successful legal appeal.
“The Chinese government always asks Chinese businesses to abide by international rules and local laws and regulations in their business cooperation’s with foreign countries,” Zhao said Tuesday.
However, he added, the “Indian government has responsibility to uphold the legitimate rights of international investors, including Chinese ones.”
— Rishi Iyengar contributed to this report.