The Indian government framed the change how to protect personal information from what he called "malicious applications", which "undermine India's sovereignty and the privacy of our citizens".
But tensions have increased between the two nuclear powers for weeks after a border clash in the Himalayas, in which Chinese forces killed at least 20 Indian soldiers and an unknown number of Chinese soldiers died. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi faced domestic criticism, which undermines his image as a strong man and conciliatory stance towards China, against which India has sporadically struggled since the 1962 war.
"While the prime minister recently called for self-confidence, the idea would be to build capacity and not to boycott products from India's second largest trading partner" Abhishek Baxi, technology journalist and digital consultant, told BuzzFeed News. "While action against smartphone brands is very difficult to deal with, banning apps is a fruit little dependent on political stance."
Among the 59 apps, are some of the most popular in the country – and controversial. In June 2019, the most recent date when the information was available, the TikTok video sharing application was used by around 200 million people in the country in October 2019. (Tiktok did not announce the latest user numbers for the country). April 2019, India banned the app for just over a week about child pornography concerns.
As the ban showed, restricting applications is not as simple as a government decree. It requires the cooperation of Google and Apple, which run the stores where the apps are sold. On Monday, these companies had not indicated whether or not they would comply with the request. Apple and Google have not yet responded to requests for comment.
On Tuesday night, TikTok released a statement saying that the company's executives were "invited to meet with interested government stakeholders in order to have an opportunity to respond and send clarifications".
Earlier this month, Google removed an app called "Remove apps from China" from the Play Store in India, which was downloaded 4.7 million times and claimed to check people's phones for Chinese apps and delete them.
TikTok owner ByteDance is one of the most valuable companies in the world, worth more than $ 100 billion in May, according to Business Insider. Based in Beijing, it is also one of the main vectors of Chinese soft power, its popularity raising concerns worldwide, including US Senators, Egyptian Courtsand Australian Regulators.
"This is not just specific to India," Abhijeet Mukherjee, founder of Guiding Tech. "There has been growing discontent with the way some of these applications are" probably "crossing the line."
Also banned were WeChat group chat platform, owned by Chinese conglomerate Tencent, a mobile game Clash of Kingsand the ShareIt file sharing app, that BuzzFeed News reported in February it was being used by Kashmiris to prevent a shutdown of the Internet charged by the Indian government. Several important applications owned by China were not included, among them some applications belonging to the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba.
Despite liberalizing its foreign direct investment policies under Modi, the Indian government has recently changed course. In April, China's central bank acquired a 1.01% stake in India's largest real estate lender, after which the Indian government announced a new policy aimed at reducing Chinese investment in Indian companies. Although Chinese investment in India is small, its capital is disproportionately concentrated in the technology sector, with large stakes in 18 of the 30 largest startups, according to Hindu.