• China paranoid at Indian response to the border dispute.
  • More Indians retaliate, uninstall Chinese apps
  • Alternate ways for uninstallation after Google Play Store drops
  • China to face more trouble from Indian whizkids.

Dr. Venkatesh Iyer

Bengaluru: Even after Google Play Store dropping the Remove China Apps, despite a whopping 50 lakh downloads in a couple of weeks, a recalcitrant China, currently flexing its muscles on India borders, is likely to face the ire of nationalist Indian information technology professionals.

The First Response to the Chinese Dragon’s Designs on Indian Territory.

IT sector sources said more action is in the offing against Chinese IT products which have thrived at the cost of their Indian counterparts. “Now is the time for us to get even with China”, said an IT professional, who is keeping a close watch on the developments. He, however, refused to divulge more.

The Remove China Apps, developed by Jaipur-based OneTouch App Labs in mid-May, became instantly popular garnering 50 lakh downloads before it was suddenly pulled out from Google Play Store early this week. Professionals suspect China’s ‘invisible’ pressure on Google in this regard.

But even after Google Play Store suspending it, the immensely popular app will be downloadable. On Thursday, for instance, IndiaTV disclosed how to download and install it on Android in five easy steps: (1) Download the Remove China Apps APK file; (2) Tap on the downloaded file; (3) If prompted, allow your browser to install the app from an unknown source; (4) Hit install and (5) Once done, tap on ‘Open’.

The app helps the Indians identify ‘Made in China’ apps installed by the users or third-party websites. Without any login, they could simply identify China-made apps on Android phones and uninstall in a moment.

If the rest of the world suspects China for allegedly masterminding the spread of COVID-19 into a global pandemic, Indians are far angrier with Beijing, their new villain, for amassing troops along Sino-Indian borders and virtually threatening to launch a war against India. Even China’s official media, like CCTV and Global Times, have been relentlessly spewing venom against India in a psychological war, indicating China’s nefarious plans.

These twin crises have triggered a nationalist fervor across India and the Remove China Apps was its first expression in the IT arena. 

With controversies like the ongoing pandemic outbreak with China as a cause, the row between TikTok and YouTube, the impasse on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Union Territory of Ladakh, have all snowballed into a strong anti-China sentiment across India.

A clarion call for the boycott of all Chinese goods was also given by entrepreneur and education reformer Sonam Wangchuk, also known as Phunsukh Wangdu of the Bollywood blockbuster “3 Idiots” fame. Actor Milind Soman became the first celebrity to uninstall TikTok, a Chinese short-video making app, followed by 40 lakh others.

But it would not be easy to shake off the Chinese yoke. In view of huge Chinese investments in different Indian sectors over the years, any comprehensive ban on the use of Chinese products is too multifaceted to comprehend.

For instance, three Chinese conglomerates Alibaba, Tencent, and ByteDance have made ‘strategic investments’ in India. The Indian technology start-up sector has more than $4 billion in Chinese investments, in 18 of the 30 unicorns. 

These start-ups include Big Basket, PayTM, Zomato, Snapdeal, Byju’s, Dream11, Flipkart, Ola, and Swiggy. 

TikTok, created as a short video app by Bytedance, a Beijing-based technology company, tried to overtake YouTube but gradually lost its sheen.

India may face a challenge in replacing imported Chinese goods in the electronic sector. In the Indian smartphone market, Chinese brands like Xiaomi, Vivo, and Oppo have a 66 percent market share. Similar is the story of all kinds of China’s cheap and substandard products being dumped into India, the world’s largest market.

According to a report by The Gateway House, some Chinese funds route their investments in India through offices located in other countries like Singapore, Hong Kong, and Mauritius. For example, Alibaba’s investment in Paytm India was made by Alibaba Singapore Holdings Pvt. Ltd. and this does not figure as Chinese investment in Indian government data.

In their quest to ban Chinese products’ invasion, youths are also trying hands with ‘Made in India’ apps like “Say Namaste”, an answer to Zoom, and “Mitron”, the answer to Tiktok, have gained popularity.

However, Mitron was pulled out by Google Play Store this week for violating spam and repetitive content policies, or minimum functionality policy. This app was downloaded more than 50 lakh times as it grew very quickly because of its perceived Indian origin. It was, however, discovered later that the source code had been purchased from a neighboring country with a changed name and logo.

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