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Wednesday, February 14, 2024

TikTok denies Indian allegations that it shared user data

Tiktok has come under fire in India after the army was brutally humiliated at Ladakh. A wounded India has decided to make folk devils out of Chinese apps and goods. While this may seem like a bold move, it is only Indians who stand to lose most in the wake of this ban.

TikTok on Tuesday denied Indian allegations that it shared Indian users’ data with the Chinese government, after New Delhi banned the wildly popular app in a sharp deterioration of relations with Beijing two weeks after a deadly border clash.

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

TikTok denies Indian allegations: places highest importance on privacy

“Further if we are requested to in the future we would not do so. We place the highest importance on user privacy and integrity,” he said, adding that it had been invited to a meeting with the Indian government “for an opportunity to respond and submit clarifications”.

Read more: Cornered India can not expect Russian help after humiliation by China: Andrew Korybko

TikTok is owned by China’s ByteDance and was one of 59 Chinese mobile apps banned late Monday by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.

There are estimated to be about 120 million TikTok users in India, making the South Asian nation of 1.3 billion people the app’s biggest international market.

A threat to sovereignty of India? TikTok denies Indian allegations 

The Indian ministry of information technology said that the apps “are engaged in activities… prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order”.

The announcement came after 20 Indian soldiers were killed on June 15 in hand-to-hand clashes with Chinese troops in the first deadly violence on their disputed Himalayan border in 45 years. Chinese casualties are unknown.

Read more: Policing the Ladakh border: a task and a half for India

Amid mutual recriminations, the nuclear-armed Asian giants have reinforced the border between the Ladakh region and Tibet with thousands of extra troops, aircraft and hardware.

Impact of ban on Chinese apps for India 

Some apps on the banned list are very popular in India, especially TikTok, which has over 100 million active users in the country, mainly in the heartland. New social media platforms like Helo and Likee, as well as video chat app Bigo Live are immensely popular among Indians who are not comfortable in English. These users will have to look for substitutes.

Also, most of these platforms have Indian creators, for many of whom this is the only source of income. Many of these apps have offices and employees in India, and a few thousand jobs could be at stake. Even though TikTok has denied Indian allegations, the government of India is relentless in its pursuit of making it a folk devil, which only spells disaster for the many content creators who depend on the app for a living.

Chinese companies forced to cover logos in India’s markets

China’s Xiaomi — India’s top cellphone brand which has factories in the country — is covering its logo on shopfronts in major cities, with banners reading “Made in India”.

“The company officials told us to do this to protect us from protesters or politicians who could damage the property as anti-China sentiments are on the rise,” said Jignesh, the owner of one Xiaomi shop in Mumbai.

“But demand has not come down for smartphones at all and people are still buying these gadgets,” he said.

Read more: Pakistan takes China’s side in Ladakh border clash

Goods made in China, including some raw materials vital to Indian pharmaceutical firms, are also starting to pile up at Indian ports and airports because of more stringent customs checks, media reports said.

Despite long-prickly relations, India and China have steadily built up strong economic ties in recent years.

Indian populace fumes after Ladakh humiliation, call for boycott

The deaths have triggered outrage on social media with calls to boycott Chinese goods, with Chinese flags set on fire at scattered street protests.

Last week, one of Delhi’s main hotel associations said that its members were barring Chinese guests and would stop using Chinese-made products.

Chinese electronic firms also have a major presence in India, with cellphone brands like Xiaomi and Oppo enjoying an almost 65-percent market share.

E-commerce giants including US giant Amazon — which sell huge volumes of Chinese gadgets — have agreed to display the country of origin of goods on their platforms, according to media reports.

Read more: No Chinese allowed in Delhi restaurants after border clash

Modi’s government has also ordered all sellers to do the same on its GeM portal, which is used for tens of billions of dollars’ worth of state purchases.

Goods made in China, including some raw materials vital to Indian pharmaceutical firms, are also starting to pile up at Indian ports and airports because of more stringent customs checks, media reports said.

Annual bilateral trade is worth some $90 billion, with a deficit of around $50 billion in China’s favour.

AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk

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