After banning major Chinese apps, including TikTok, UC Browser, the Centre has blocked Baidu Search and Weibo apps - the most influential apps of China and dubbed as the country’s answer to Google search and Twitter respectively, in India.
Sources told TOI that the two apps, which are among the flagship internet products of China, have been asked to be taken off from the app stores of Google and Apple, while internet service providers (IPSs) have also been told to block them.
“They are among the 47 new apps that the government had banned on July 27,” an official source said, adding that the government is also considering a decision to block more apps.
The first decision to ban 59 key Chinese apps such as TikTok, UC Browser, Helo, Likee, Shareit, Mi Community, WeChat and CamScanner were banned on June 29 for "engaging in activities prejudicial to the sovereignty, integrity and defence of India.
The government announced the second list of blocked applications on July 27, in which 47 Chinese apps were banned in the country. The second decision included clones and different versions of some of the original apps, such as TikTok Lite, Likee Lite, Bigo Live Lite, Shareit Lite, and CamScanner HD.
A total of 275 apps were on the government radar for possible violations of national security and user privacy. Major apps, including PubG, were also said to be on the list of 275 apps that may be banned by the government soon.
Recently, the banned Weibo app was launched in 2009 by Sina Corporation. It has over 500 million registered users globally. It had Prime Minister Narendra Modi as one of its star users after he opened an account on the Chinese microblogging website in 2015 ahead of his visit to the neighbouring country, reported TOI.
The inaugural post of Modi — who had over 2 lakh followers on the site with 100-plus posts — had read, “Hello China! Looking forward to interacting with Chinese friends through Weibo” (the PM quit Weibo recently following the heightened tensions).
While Baidu Search has been testing waters in India (one of its significant products here is Facemoji keyboard). The company wanted to increase its engagement in the country, something spoken about by its CEO Robin Li, who came visiting the IIT-Madras campus in January this year.
During his visit, Baidu’s Li had said that the company wants to work with Indian technology institutions, especially in areas such as artificial intelligence and mobile computing.
The ban on Chinese apps comes as tensions between India and Ladakh continue after a violent face-off between the armies of both countries.