Despite being an attractive destination for investments in digital and internet technologies, India doesn’t provide open license to anyone to violate rules and regulations of the government

In response to China’s accusation that India’s step to ban 59 Chinese apps, “runs against fair and transparent procedure requirements” and violates the WTO rules, the Ministry of External Affairs on Thursday gave reasons why they were kept away from the Indian markets.

Speaking to the media during a weekly briefing MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said, “The world’s largest software and internet application companies are present in India. Naturally while operating in India, they have to abide by rules and regulations issued by relevant ministries and departments, including those pertaining to data security and privacy of individual data.”

The MEA spokesperson’s statement presented the same argument as the Ministry of Information Technology along with several experts has been making on the security issue attached with Chinese apps banned by India.

The decision to ban these apps was taken after "it was found that they are engaged in activities which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, the security of state and public order,” the Ministry of Information Technology said in its release on June 29.

Reacting to the move, New Delhi-based Chinese embassy’s spokesperson Ji Rong said, “India’s measure, selectively and discriminatorily aims at certain Chinese apps on ambiguous and far-fetched grounds, runs against fair and transparent procedure requirements.” He further added, “It (the banning) goes against the general trend of international trade and E-commerce, and is not conducive to consumer interests and the market completion in India.”

But question is: Were the presence of Chinese apps conducive to India’s interests? For nearly two year, cyber experts and security and intelligence units of the Indian government have been calling for action against Chinese apps. Their suspicion was these apps were engaged in stealing information for larger Chinese ingression into India, which is, as the MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava, one of the largest markets in the world for digital and internet technologies with more than 680 million subscribers.

Recently, US National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien too maintained that all Chinese companies function as arms of the Communist Party of China (CPC) to further its ideological and geopolitical agenda.

In 2017, Huawei’s 5G technology was linked by the US and British intelligence reports with the People’s Liberation Army and the National Security Commission of the CPC. The US, the UK, Germany and Australia have either blocked Huawei 5G equipment or slapped stricter cyber security protocol for their use.

In India, as diplomatic relations with China have suffered a blow after the June 15 incident in which 20 soldiers lost their lives in the Galwan Valley, banning Chinese apps was seen as viable option.