The Asian geopolitical scenario is drastically changing with Chinese expansionists policy that seeks to increase its dominance all around the world. In a recap of Chinese activity last month:
1. A Chinese military vessel in the South China Sea drowned a Vietnamese fishing boat.
2. Chinese government is a prime suspect in massive cyber-attacks on Australian government.
3. Non-disclosure of its coronavirus data.
4. Passing the Hong Kong National Security Law that gives immense power to Hong Kong police and China by ensuring complete subordination from people.
5. Hand-to-hand combat with Indian troops in the Galwan vallet that left 20 Indian soldiers dead, with no such disclosure from the Chinese side.
As a retaliatory measure, the Indian government banned as many as 59 Chinese mobile phone applications that include TikTok, WeChat and CamScanner. According to the Indian government, these applications pose a direct threat to “sovereignty and security” of India and its citizens. These Chinese mobile apps were accused for stealing personal data of its users and transmitted it to its servers outside India, without any authorised manner. Therefore, for being engaged in activities that hamper the sovereignty, security, defence and integrity of India, a ban was imposed on the Chinese apps under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, 2000.
The Internet Freedom Foundation criticized the government on its move by saying, “This is not a legal order issued under Section 69A. Our first ask is transparency and disclosure” and that, a criterion needs to be set to consider these cases on individual basis.
The Chinese companies whose apps have been banned, did not issue a press release immediately.
The Chinese apps have a huge takeaway, garnered from the Indian market. Most profitable of the banned apps was TikTok. As a matter of fact, the app was banned by the Madras High Court in 2019 for a few days, until the ban was lifted in a matter of days.
The current ban on the app implies that Indian users can neither update their apps, nor any new user can download it.
Such a ban from India’s side directly impacts the profitability of the Chinese apps. It also boosts market for Indian apps, as an alternative. In such a case, the Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lejian had condemned India’s baseless actions.
If the question of Fundamental Rights guaranteed under the Indian Constitution is raised then, the Chinese companies can file a case under Article 226 of the constitution and take a stand under ‘freedom of expression’ and ‘occupation.’ But national security is hard to challenge in the court.
Even if the court finds the ban to be illegal, the harm would have already been done to the Chinese economy which is already finding it hard to pay its 4.3 trillion USD it government debt.
One of the banned apps such a CamScanner has repeatedly shown instances of accessing unauthorised data for espionage activities. India has set a precedent for the world to isolate China by striking a sledgehammer on its economy. All that we need to see now is, to see how the geopolitical scenario changes.
– Ridha Dhawan
Member, REPORTER’S COMMITTEE