United States’ Secretary of State Mike Pompeo today applauded India’s blanket ban on Chinese mobile applications (apps) including TikTok, saying New Delhi was ensuring its own security. “We welcome India’s ban on certain mobile apps” from China, Pompeo told reporters, saying the move would “boost India’s integrity and national security.”
“We welcome India’s ban on certain mobile apps that can serve as appendages of the CCP surveillance state,” the United States’ secretary of state said.
Upping the ante, the United States has termed as “shocking” a report that China is forcibly sterilising and performing abortions on Muslim Uighur women in the Xinjiang province.
TikTok on 30 June had denied sharing users’ data with the Chinese government after India banned the wildly popular app as ties with Beijing deteriorate sharply following a deadly border clash.
Blaming each other for the brutal hand-to-hand battle on 15 June as talks make little headway, the Asian giants have been bolstering their border forces as anti-China sentiment grows in India.
Meanwhile, the United States has also warned China that it will not stand idle while it “swallows” Hong Kong into its “authoritarian maw,” a day after Beijing imposed a “draconian” national security law in the former British territory.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government on 29 June banned 59 Chinese apps including TikTok, WeChat and Weibo. In a tweet on 29 June, Union Minister for Information Technology and Communications Ravi Shankar Prasad had said, “For safety, security, defence, sovereignty & integrity of India and to protect data & privacy of people of India the Government has banned 59 mobile apps.”
The ministry of information technology said the apps “are engaged in activities… prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order”.
The move mirrored growing unease about Chinese tech firms in other countries, in particular regarding telecom giant Huawei.
TikTok, owned by China’s ByteDance, allows users to upload and share short videos and is spectacularly popular in India — its 120 million users have made it the app’s top international market.
On 30 June, the head of TikTok India issued a statement saying the firm has “not shared any information of our users in India with any foreign government, including the Chinese government”.
“Further if we are requested to in the future we would not do so,” Nikhil Gandhi said, adding that “hundreds of millions of users, artists, story-tellers, educators and performers… (depend) on it for their livelihood.”
It remains unclear, however, how the bans would work, with Indians who have downloaded TikTok on their phones still able to use the app on 30 June.
The United States today also stepped in to stall a United Nations Security Council statement that China pushed hard on this week’s Karachi terror attack in light of New Delhi’s reservations over the Imran Khan government’s efforts to politicise the attack at the Pakistan Stock Exchange.