India bans Tencent’s PUBG app following border standoff with China

REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

India on Wednesday banned another 118 mobile apps including Tencent Holdings’ popular videogame PUBG, as it stepped up the pressure on Chinese technology companies following a standoff with Beijing at the border.

The list of 118 mostly Chinese apps also includes applications from Baidu and Xiaomi’s ShareSave.

The ban was announced a day after a senior Indian official said troops were deployed on four strategic hilltops after what New Delhi called an attempted Chinese incursion along a disputed Himalayan border.

Tencent declined to comment on the announcement and the Chinese embassy in New Delhi did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

India’s technology ministry said the apps were a threat to India’s sovereignty and security.

These “apps collect and share data in a surreptitious manner and compromise personal data and information of users that can have a severe threat to the security of the state,” the ministry said in a statement.

The ban is a blow for Tencent in India whose PUBG, a battle royale game, is a smash-hit in the country. India ranks No.1 in the world in terms of PUBG downloads, accounting for roughly 175 million installs, or 24 percent of the total, apps analytics firm SensorTower says.

India first banned 59 Chinese apps, including ByteDance’s popular video-sharing app TikTok, Tencent‘s WeChat and Alibaba’s UC Browser, in June.

That move, which India’s technology minister referred to as a “digital strike”, followed a skirmish with Chinese troops at a disputed Himalayan border site in June when 20 Indian soldiers were killed.

Tensions have simmered between New Delhi and Beijing ever since and sources told Reuters last month of another ban of 47 mostly clone apps.

India’s prohibitions have stalled business operations of several Chinese companies in India. They have also forced Alibaba, a major backer of Indian tech startups, to put on hold all plans to invest in the country for at least six months, Reuters reported in August.

Tech analysts say there is a risk the sudden change in the business environment will deter Chinese investment more generally.

“The app bans not only give a negative signal to Chinese firms and investors already in India, but even those waiting for a favourable climate to invest in India may now back off now,” said Atul Pandey, a partner at law firm Khaitan & Co who has advised several Chinese clients.

Reuters

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.