By Tum Sokuntararith from CamEd Business School, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
It is 8:00AM in Cambodia, many unprecedented pictures of global issues having been raising up since the beginning of 2020. Australia’s forests have burned, the threat of World War 3, the pandemic Covid19 which causes the devastation of the global economy and millions of lives especially the recent Beirut explosion rocks Lebanon’s capital city at the start point of August 2020. Now we have the precedent of political tension between China and India, emerging recently along the border of these two countries. Thousands of Indian and Chinese troops have been in a standoff in the Ladakh region high in the Himalayas since early May. Along with this tension, top 59 famous social media platforms namely TikTok, WeChat, Weibo, mobile legend have been banned in India.
Why is India banning all of those Chinese applications?
The purpose is to encounter threats to the country’s sovereignty and integrity of India, security of state and public order. The ban was enforced pursuant to section 69A of the information technology act read with the related provisions of IT rules 2009 after being suspended for stealing and transmitting users’ data to servers which have locations outside India. Basically, the installed apps may continue to exist in mobile but the latest version of each application that has been banned in India, users will not be able to access or use the updated versions in the future. Users in India also try to find out how to play and access to those applications after being banned, especially mobile legend bang bang (MLBB), but sad news is that it is completely impossible. People gather in Hyderabad, India, on June 30, in support of the Indian government’s ban of TikTok and 58 other Chinese applications over data security concerns.
What is the reaction of Chinese government to the ban?
Actually China is seriously concerned about this problem after India blocked 59 Chinese apps which it considered as “a deliberate interference in practice cooperation” between China and India, The Chinese government called on India to review the move because the move will bring economic repercussions after affecting outbound Chinese investment into India. Chinese foreign industry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters during a daily news briefing that India has a responsibility to uphold the rights of Chinese businesses. “ We want to stress that the Chinese government always asks Chinese businesses to abide by international and local news and regulations,” he said. The embassy said the move to ban these apps, which include the hugely popular TikTok, Wechat and UC Browser, among others, “goes against the general trend of international trade and e-commerce and is not conducive to consumer interest and the market competition in India. Urging India to change their decision, the embassy said “we expect India to acknowledge the mutually beneficial nature of china-India economic and trade cooperation, maintain the momentum of china-India economic and trade cooperation, treat all investments and service providers equally and create an open fair and business environment.
What are the impacts of banning those applications on China?
India is China’s biggest market for apps such as TikTok and UC browser. In a report, China’s state-run media The Global Times stated that ByteDance could lose up to Rs 45,000 crore (US 6 billion) as a result of the Indian’s government’s decision to ban TikTok, Helo and other Chinese app users urged to delete the app. Statistics indicate that India is the biggest market for Tik Tok, outside china. Tik tok has been downloaded more than 611 million times in India, which make up approximately 30 percent of the app’s top global downloads.
What are the impacts of banning those applications on India?
Besides being accused of international laws governing global trade and e-commerce violation after banning those 59 Chinese applications, the ban basically not only impacted a large number of users in India but also impacted local Indian professionals working in companies running those apps too. With these huge numbers of users and supporters in India, Bytedance Ltd. had talked of upcoming investments worth $1 billion dollar, but this will probably remain suspended till further clarity emerges. Along with this, we see a lot of small businesses use TikTok and many other hinese applications to promote or advertising their products and services both locally and internationally, so by banning those applications also might give huge impacts to people whose livelihood depended on those apps.
What about trading between these two countries after banning those applications?
According to economic time, industry estimates, India exported 257 million kg of cotton yarn to China in 2019-2020, which was 27% of the total exports of the commodity. The sudden ban on the mobile apps is going to impact the cotton yarn export business in the short term. Wechat and QQ which is the fundamental lifeline for both Indian and Chinese businessmen to connect, said Vivek kaushal, senior general manager, DCM Nouvelle limited.
What might be the advantages of banning those applications in India?
We might think of political tension between these two countries, that’s why the Indian government decided to close down 59 Chinese applications.
If we try to consider the bright side of this decision, It might be the best time for Indian business leaders and tech startups, their businesses and tech innovation. India is considered one of the most powerful technologies and it foresees the possibility of Indian tech startups and companies to build better alternatives to the banned Chinese apps which help the contribution of the country’s economy, employment rate and decrease poverty line. It is not really weird to ban all of those apps because China itself also banned many apps namely Facebook in 2009 after Xinjiang independence activists were using facebook as part of their communications network, and Facebook denied giving the information of the activists. Along with this, America is also planning to ban short video app Tik Tok too on 15th September unless an American company buys it according to President Donald Trump.
Does this lead to the new era of techno-nationalism?
What is techno-nationalism?
Based on Forbes, techno-nationalism is a new strain of mercantilist thinking that links technological innovation and capabilities directly to a nation’s national security, economic prosperity and social stability. China banned Facebook, US government has charged Huawei and two of its subsidiaries with federal racketeering and conspiracy to steal trade secrets from american companies, India banned 59 Chinese applications last but not least Japan and USA also planned to ban Chinese apps due to the concern over national security. Thus techno-nationalism is not a new concept because Japan and the USA have used it effectively in the past to send a political message, it just only acquired a sharper, more dangerous edge, a new cold war based on technological prowess and development. The US hailed India’s ban on Chinese apps, it was a reflection of the growing schism between China and America. After the US vowed a global campaign to impose a ban on Huawei from its 5G network, a number of countries also considered following suit. Is this because of political constraints concerning national security by transmitting data from users even though this has been denied by each company or the new way to win over the digital competition?
Is it just the beginning?
According to a report from The Economic Times, India Government officials have created a list of 275 apps that might be violating security measures and user privacy. They are inspecting to ban 275 more chinese applications namely PlayerUnknown’s BattleGround (PUBG) which gained more than 50 million players and ByteDance’s music app Resso, the list also includes economerce App Aliexpress from Alibaba and Ulike.
Who is supporting this idea?
Based on the time of India, banning Chinese apps has been widely noted in the US, including by some prominent lawmakers who urged American government to follow suit as it is believed that those apps play a major security risk to the country. US national security advisor Robert O’Brien had alleged that the Chinese Government is using TikTok for its purpose. Relating to this decision, Techcrunch reported, after the US and India, Japan also looks to ban TikTok and other Chinese apps too. The decision was first reported by Japanese national broadcaster NHK. The lawyers shared the same concern as officials in US and India that all of the consumer’s user data including location could end up in the hands of Beijing and they planned to submit the proposal to the Japanese government as early as September.
In conclusion, the purpose of creating those digital applications is to create an online connection platform of every nationality in the world by the help of internet access. We here in Cambodia can watch videos and clips of Indian culture through TikTok, beautiful Chinese heritage through Facebook posts, Indian students who study in china can contact their parents or relatives in India through Chinese apps, but look at what just happened, everything is falling apart. People are living in fear of stealing their personal data through online websites and apps which threaten their security due to the political tension of each country. What should we do next in order to guarantee the freedom of every nationality? Should each country create a special system which observes and places those applications under scrutiny? Actually, this is not the end of the 2020’s chapter, both bad and good things will continue to happen, stay safe and hope to hear good news from every corner of the world.