With the majority of India currently being aggressively vocal about their anti-China sentiments following the Galwan Valley incident and the ongoing tensions at the border, some Indian analysts have also decided to start pitching in their ideas to cripple the Chinese presence in our nation in a strategic way.
A fellow with Gateway House which is a Mumbai-based thinktank, Blaise Fernandes believes that the Indian consumers should actively focus on boycotting the Chinese virtual and technology sector that is present in India rather than trying to boycott physical goods because a trade war with China can end up costing India’s economy more adversely.
Over the past three years, several Chinese apps have become significantly popular in India. Social content platforms such as Helo and SHAREit, apps based on entertainment and engagement such as TikTok and LIKE, video and live streaming ones like LiveMe, Bigo Live, and Vigo Video, utility apps such as BeautyPlus, Xender and Cam Scanner, gaming leaders such as PUBG, Clash of Kings, and Mobile Legends, not to forget popular e-commerce apps including ClubFactory, SHEIN, and ROMWE.
It is quite obvious that China values India’s booming app economy which currently consists of 500 million smartphone users who are hungry to try out new apps and content on their devices. Thus, according to Fernandes, the best way to cripple them would be to slowly stop relying on China-based apps, especially the ones which are in the category of – vanity apps, apps with nuisance value and those which are used to push Chinese propaganda.
However, according to him, those Chinese apps which give India an economic edge, such as payments apps that happen to provide employment to Indian citizens as well as attract foreign direct investment, must be exempted from such wrath as these apps are making a significant contribution to the growth of India. But other apps can be removed very easily. Doing this will not have any repercussion of our economy, however, on the other hand, it will definitely be a big blow on the valuations of these Chinese companies.
In an idealistic situation, an economic boycott when initiated against another country should be affecting only their side drastically and not cause any collateral damage. This is why Indian consumers should be aiming for the higher-value industries whose presence in India is held dearly by China.
Highly-Valued Vanity Apps
Blaise Fernandes explains that many apps having a back up of Chinese investors such as Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent are the digital equivalents of the ‘Silk Route’ of China. Therefore, if these apps are faced with massive disruption in the Indian market, it will crumble their valuations. For instance, Tiktok, according to Fernandes generates 10% of its revenue from India as 30% of its total user base are Indian.
Chinese Nuisance Apps
These Chinese apps exist solely for the creation of disharmony and misinformation in the foreign countries they operate in. The Indian government, to do away with these types of Chinese apps from the market can exercise Section 68A of the IT Act 2000. Also, because of the recent India-China clash along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the Government is well within its rights to implement Section 69A which will block access to Chinese apps for the public in the “interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states or public order for preventing incitement.”
The grounds on which apps can be immediately removed or banned are – causing disharmony, spreading misinformation or rumours, and laying on sectoral violence.
Chinese Apps Which Are Propaganda Machines
These are the apps which basically do not serve any Indian interests. Generally, these apps have heavy have investments from the Chinese government as they help them spread Chinese propaganda.
Now it is up to the Indian consumers to understand these nuances and then collectively band together to remove the Chinese presence from India strategically. Boycotting virtual goods instead of physical goods is definitely the way to go. Now it remains to be seen what the future holds for the fate of the stronghold Chinese apps have over the Indian market.