NEW DELHI (AP) — India Sept. 2 banned the widely popular Chinese mobile game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, known by the acronym PUBG, along with 117 other mobile apps in another move targeting China.
The decision came amid soaring tensions between India and China following their deadliest standoff in decades near a disputed border in the Ladakh region.
The government said in a statement that PUBG and the other banned mobile applications were engaged in activities that were “prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defense of India, security of state and public order.”
PUBG has around 33 million active users in India.
In late June, the Indian government banned 59 Chinese-owned applications, including TikTok, citing privacy concerns that it said posed a threat to India’s sovereignty and security. The move was seen as retaliation during a tense border standoff between the two countries that led to 20 Indian army personnel being killed on June 15.
A month later, India banned 47 more Chinese mobile applications that cloned the previously restricted apps.
Tensions have been high between India and China for months. Each of the Asian giants has accused the other of new provocations, including allegations of soldiers crossing into each other’s territory.
On Sept. 1, India said its soldiers thwarted “provocative” movements by China’s military near a disputed border in Ladakh. In turn, China’s defense ministry accused Indian troops of crossing established lines of control and creating provocations on Monday.
The standoff is over disputed portions of a pristine landscape high in the Karakoram mountains that boasts the world’s highest landing strip, a glacier that feeds one of the largest irrigation systems in the world, and is a critical link in China’s massive “Belt and Road” infrastructure project.
Several rounds of military and diplomatic talks on ending the crisis have been unsuccessful.
IANS adds: In yet another surgical strike on malicious Chinese apps, the Indian government Sept. 2 banned 118 apps over national security concerns, including the immensely popular PUBG Mobile, Baidu and a couple of virtual private networks that allowed access to TikTok that was earlier banned.
"This move will safeguard the interests of crores of Indian mobile and internet users. This decision is a targeted move to ensure safety, security and sovereignty of Indian cyberspace," the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said in a statement.
After PUBG became popular, Tencent – a Chinese conglomerate – joined hands with Bluehole to market the product in China and started handling a large portion of its distribution. The game is distributed in India by Tencent Holdings.
The ban on PUBG came as it announced the arrival of a new gaming era with its 1.0 version, along with global mobile esports tournament PUBG Mobile Global Championship with a grand prize pool of $2 million (about Rs 15 crore).
Other popular banned apps in the fresh list of banned apps are Baidu and Baidu Express Edition, ShareSave by Xiaomi, WeChat Work, Tencent Weiyun, Tencent Watchlist, Alipay, GO SMS Pro, ZAKZAK Pro and Live, Smart AppLock and Ludo World-Ludo Superstar, among others.
The ministry said that it has decided to block 118 mobile apps in view of information available that "they are engaged in activities which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defense of India, security of state and public order.”
The ministry received many complaints from various sources including several reports about misuse of some mobile apps available on Android and iOS platforms for stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users' data in an unauthorized manner to servers which have locations outside India.