India Bars Chinese Apps As Tensions Peak

After a military battle broke out last month between India and China, resulting in the deaths of 20 Indian soldiers, the Indian government has now banned 59 Chinese apps from their nation. The ban includes the wildly popular video app TikTok, which had previously seen roughly one-third of all its users based in India. TikTok is just one of numerous recently made illegal apps. The list includes everything from news and mail applications to shopping sites and video calling programs. These 59 applications not only connected India to China but were also India’s links to the rest of the world. The Indian government has cited worries over cybersecurity as the primary reason for this proclamation. They raised concerns that these apps have been compiling and taking advantage of user data, “…which ultimately impinges upon the sovereignty and integrity of India”, said India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology in a statement they gave earlier this week.

The Ministry did not directly name China in this statement, but the citizens of India seem to know whom they were calling out, as many have praised the action as a deserved blow to China. One unnamed nationalist tv anchor cried out on NPR that “we, the people of India, standing behind the government, have the ability to hit China where it hurts!” The sentiments of the people are turning far worse after their soldiers perished, leaving them reeling and spiteful. Though tensions with the two nations have been increasing over the years, this is the first blood drawn in decades.

The area at the centre of this rift, where the clash took place, is a border 2,000 miles long in the Himalayan region. Here, both countries accuse each other of overstepping the Line of Control and there are scuffles between soldiers of opposing sides. This dispute dates back to a bloody war in 1962, after which a peace agreement was met much later in 1993. Mr. Modi and Mr. Xi, the Prime Minister of India and the President of China respectively, have had multiple meetings to discuss this debated territory and land battles, to no avail. Though China has not released their number of fatalities suffered in this fight, there were losses on both sides and many injured, having accomplished nothing but pain and further distrust amongst the national neighbours.

In truth, the fury coming out of India right now is understandable, with their hearts wounded from the battle, suspicious of China moving in on their culture and personal lives. Yet, it would also be true to call this motion a vindictive one, a vengeful one, not looking to establish concord. A TikTok spokesperson told CNN that creating local teams in influential countries like India has been, “critical to our global success”, meaning they will undoubtedly be impacted by this decision, as will the app’s former users.

Mr. Modi and Mr. Xi must use the same intelligence they showcase to lead their incredibly expansive countries by putting their brains together to solve this struggle. There must be no more excuses or interruptions to ending this eye-for-an-eye land quarrel. Neither nation-state wants to lose their partnership, with India offering a massive internet audience for China to engage, and China helping to finance many of India’s tech start-ups. While the soldiers who lost their lives must stay in our memories, taking revenge for them will not clear the path, but rather, will add more dangers instead. As China is currently taking back more control of the semi-sovereign state of Hong Kong and India faces new threats from Pakistan, the two leaders have more significant issues at hand than pecking for land or minute power.

These sister states seem to forget that this physical border they have erected was made necessary by the glorious Himalayan mountains that reach into and through four nations. With its mysteries, myths and monks, this place, if any, should be a place of tranquillity and mutual respect. Can there not be one land shared among two peoples in harmony? Can there not be one expanse of this rolling Earth where policy matters less than people? They live side-by-side in the same continent and are only hurting themselves by turning away an ally. These nations need to progress their thinking from the combative, land-hungry aggression of the past dividing them. This is the year 2020; the year that shook the planet and humbled us all, making way to start anew and change the future.

Heidi Moura