The ban comes after a deadly border conflict between the two nuclear-armed nations earlier this month in which 20 Indian soldiers died.
India has banned 59 Chinese mobile apps, including the wildly popular TikTok and WeChat, over national security and privacy concerns on Monday just weeks after a deadly Himalayan border clash between the nuclear-armed neighbours.
Relations between the world’s two most populous nations have been strained following the deaths of 20 Indian troops in hand-to-hand fighting with their Chinese counterparts on the western end of the high-altitude, contested border in mid-June.
The apps “are engaged in activities … prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order,” the Ministry of Information Technology said in a statement.
“The government of India has decided to disallow the usage of certain apps … This decision is a targeted move to ensure safety and sovereignty of Indian cyberspace.”
The statement said the move was taken after several complaints were received by the ministry alleging theft of users’ data and violations of user privacy.
Following the order, Google and Apple will have to remove these apps from the Android and iOS stores.
It was unclear when the ban would come into force.
Deadly brawl along border
The Indian soldiers were killed in a brawl along the disputed border in the northern Ladakh region on June 15 in the deadliest faceoff for almost half a century between the two countries.
They had fought a war over the border in 1962.
New Delhi has accused China of intruding into its territory in the region, a charge Beijing has denied.
Thousands of soldiers remain on alert, although both sides said they were trying to resolve the standoff through dialogue.
The deaths triggered massive outrage and street protests in India. There have been calls for the banning of Chinese businesses, which export goods worth nearly $60 billion to India.
What’s behind the China-India border dispute?
TikTok popular in India
Chinese mobiles have an almost 65 percent share in the local smartphone market, while video-sharing apps like TikTok and Helo are popular among India’s youths.
There are estimated to be about 120 million TikTok users in India, making the South Asian nation of 1.3 billion people the app’s biggest international market.
The ban is expected to be a big stumbling block for Chinese firms such as Bytedance in India, which have placed big bets in what is one of the world’s biggest web services markets.
Beijing-headquartered Bytedance had plans to invest $1 billion in India, open a local data centre, and had recently ramped up hiring in the country.
Other apps on the banned list include microblogging app Weibo and strategy game Clash of Kings.
“This is the quickest and most powerful step the government could have taken to put economic pressure on Chinese companies,” said Santosh Pai, a partner at Indian law firm Link Legal, which advises several Chinese companies.
Anti-China sentiment has long simmered in India over accusations of cheap imports flooding the country, but the border clash has brought tensions to the fore with calls being made to boycott Chinese products.
Indian customs at ports have since last week held back containers coming from China, including Apple, Cisco and Dell products, Reuters reported previously.
First time troops killed in decades
The June 15 violence took place around 4,500 metres (15,000 feet) above sea level in the Galwan River valley.
It was the first time troops have been killed on their frontier since 1975.
There is an understanding between the nuclear-armed neighbours that their troops in the inhospitable region will not use firearms.
Will the latest skirmish be a watershed moment for India-China relations?