An AliExpress office in Hangzhou, China. Picture: REUTERS/ALY SONG
An AliExpress office in Hangzhou, China. Picture: REUTERS/ALY SONG

New Delhi  — India banned 43 mobile apps on Tuesday including Alibaba’s e-commerce app AliExpress in a new wave of web actions targeting China amid a months-long standoff at a Himalayan border site.

The apps, which are mostly from China and include a few dating apps, threaten the “sovereignty and integrity of India”, the federal technology ministry said in a statement.

India has previously banned more than 170 apps saying they collect and share users data which could pose a threat to the state.

The moves, which India’s technology minister has referred to as a “digital strike”, were initiated after 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a skirmish with Chinese troops at a disputed Himalayan border site in June.

AliExpress is not a major player in India’s fledgling e-commerce market, which is led by Walmart’s Flipkart and Amazon’s local unit. It is, however, popular with some motorcycle enthusiasts and small shopkeepers, who use it to source cheap goods.

The move is another setback for Chinese tech giant Alibaba, which is the biggest investor in Indian fintech firm Paytm and also backs online grocer BigBasket.

Its subsidiary, UC Web, laid off staff in India earlier in 2020 after New Delhi first banned 59 Chinese-origin mobile apps that included UC Web’s browser and two other products.

Alibaba was also forced to put on hold its plans to invest in Indian companies after the border tensions between the two nuclear-armed countries.

India’s slew of app bans have also jolted the ambitions of Chinese tech titans such as ByteDance and Tencent, in which Naspers has a 31.2% stake, in the  country, which is trying to reduce Beijing’s influence in its burgeoning internet economy.



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