- “Remove apps from China” scans the phone for Chinese apps and removes them
- The app has more than 5 million downloads since the end of May.
- Its popularity comes amid border tension with China.
India’s most popular free app on Google’s mobile app store, with over 5 million downloads since the end of May, is called “Remove Apps from China” and does exactly what the label says.
Its popularity comes amid calls for a boycott of Chinese mobile apps in India, as a border dispute fuels a backlash against China’s products.
Yoga guru Baba Ramdev posted a video on Twitter on Sunday showing the step-by-step removal of various Chinese apps, a move he described as a “national service.”
Chinese companies have faced occasional opposition for years in India, where supporters of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) advocate for self-sufficiency.
Remove China Apps, whose logo contains a dragon head with two brooms, scans a user’s phone for apps like TikTok from ByteDance and UC Browser from Alibaba. Once removed, a message appears saying: “You are amazing, no application from China found.”
OneTouch AppLabs, which has developed the app to remove the Chinese, did not respond to a request for comment. The Jaipur-based company describes the app as its first initiative towards “self-sufficient India”.
ByteDance and Alibaba did not respond to Reuters requests for comment on the app. The Chinese embassy in New Delhi did not immediately respond.
The protest against Chinese applications comes after India in April said that stricter screening rules will be applied to China’s foreign direct investment, which worries investors there. China has said that the policy is discriminatory.
“Previous boycott calls have focused on Chinese products, while this one is specifically targeting Chinese applications, which could affect Chinese technology companies that have seen India as a crucial market,” said Tanvi Madan, member high-ranking Brookings Institution who closely follows Indo Relations with China
The stakes are high for companies like ByteDance, which plans to invest $ 1 billion in India and has recently increased hiring.
India, which has a population of 1.3 billion, is the biggest driver of ByteDance’s TikTok facility, which Bollywood actor Milind Soman said on Twitter last week that he was no longer using.
Nupur Sharma, a BJP spokeswoman, said it was “great to see concerned citizens leading by example.”
“We should hit them where it hurts the most,” Sharma said on Twitter, using the hashtag, #BoycottChineseProducts.
A senior executive working for a China-based company in India, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that Chinese companies were contributing to the Indian economy, especially the manufacturing sector.
He predicted the protests will be short-lived: “It hurts but (the boycott calls) is going to fade away.”