“Digital Surgical Strike”: Will the Ban on TikTok and Other Chinese Apps Really Affect China?

Social Commentary

“Digital Surgical Strike”: Will the Ban on TikTok and Other Chinese Apps Really Affect China?

Illustration: Robin Chakraborty

In the last few weeks, tensions with China have continued to escalate, following clashes in Galwan district. On Monday, the government responded by banning 59 Chinese apps, including popular social media platforms like TikTok and shopping websites like Shein.

The Chinese apps were banned, according to the government, in a bid to protect the sovereignty, security, and data of all Indians.

The announcement created a storm on social media, with an outpouring of support for the ban countered by a wave of suspicion. Over the last 24 hours, several theories have also spawned over how this latest “digital strike” will affect the Chinese.

For some, including the government, the ban would protect Indians from the security risk that these Chinese apps pose, as well as restrict the economic giant from cashing in on our country’s massive youth population.

A few others took to Twitter to say the latest move would energise the Indian startup ecosystem, and hence was a long-term measure to reduce reliability on the Chinese.

But for some, including journalist Rajdeep Sardesai, the ban on Chinese apps wouldn’t make much difference to our neighbour, considering India didn’t feature in the top 10 revenue generators for TikTok anyway.

Columnist Tavleen Singh also noted that the ban wouldn’t do much in terms of defending the soldiers on the border. Another journalist, agreed, and indicated that it wasn’t a severe enough measure, and hence wouldn’t be as effective as claimed.

On the other hand, journalist Rahul Kanwal said China would no longer be able to steal the data of Indian citizens, and that the ban would “hit them where it hurts most”.

A few also took to social media to warn that China may be compelled to relaunch a number of these apps in India — this time, masking the nation of origin.

The Global Times, a newspaper run by China’s ruling party, meanwhile said that the ban would end up hurting Indian startups instead, which would now lose out on Chinese investment.

A Twitter comedian was also quick to warn us about getting too excited by the ban on Chinese apps…

Only time will tell which of these theories will end up being true, but Monday’s events have proven at least one thing beyond doubt — the stand-off between India and China isn’t about to deescalate soon.