Why India is boycotting Chinese apps and technology

Credit: Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority
India’s ban on over 60 popular Chinese apps caught everyone off guard recently. The move came in the middle of a rising wave of anti-China sentiment in the country. This growing animosity has led to some drastic actions by fringe elements, including blockading the Oppo factory in India, but also acts of vandalism against storefronts stocking Chinese smartphones. So, what the heck is going on here?
The COVID-19 pandemic might have fueled negative sentiment against China, but the recent border skirmish between India and China has set the stage for a modern-day cold war. For now, this conflict is unfolding as a war between economies and trade, with technology being the unfortunate casualty.
Read more: The best alternatives to Chinese apps banned in India
The Sino-Indian border stretches 4,056 kilometers with at least 20 disputed regions, the Galwan valley being just one of them. While the real story is still in flux, India alleges that the Chinese military encroached on and laid claims on a 60km 2 stretch of territory.

Credit: Financial Times

The rising tide of anti-China sentiment has been fueled by political parties, the Prime Minister’s call for self reliance and a broad focus on local manufacturing, as well as social media calls for a boycott on Chinese goods. This culminated in the ban of 60 popular apps under the guise of national security. These apps were alleged to promote activities that are “prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of India.” The list includes the social media behemoth TikTok, as well as popular apps like Mi Community, Weibo, WeChat, and BeautyPlus.
India is the shining star of growth in the global smartphone race. In fact, after China, it is the largest smartphone market in the world. However, in an increasingly globalized economy, India’s actions could have huge repercussions for the future.
India’s digital revolution was fueled by Chinese smartphone vendors bringing incredible value to the segment. Xiaomi occupies a 30.6% market share of India’s smartphone space. Four of the top-selling smartphone brands in the country are Chinese. Meanwhile, apps like TikTok have leveled the playing field by surfacing talent from the hinterland and giving them a global audience.

Credit: SCMP

A common justification for the Chinese boycott is the idea that it will spur Indian brands and ecosystems. As it turns out, Xiaomi and other Chinese vendors flourished exactly because of the lack of quality options from Indian smartphone vendors.
Even for Indian-made smartphones, a large portion of the supply chain still relies on components imported from China and other countries. A study by Counterpoint Research and IIM-B claims that localization of components is still well under 30%. This is less than half of the 70% of the component localization seen in China....

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