Indian PM Narendra Modi’ move to quit Weibo, after the Chinese app ban was announced hasn’t gone down well with its users. With comments like ‘shut the door on your way out’ and ‘some people leave and you never even knew they were there’, most of the users seem to be either unaffected or critical of the move.
Another popular comment on Weibo was that India should return the $750-million loan, recently granted to assist the government in responding to the adverse impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic by Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a bank headquartered in Beijing.
As reported earlier by EurAsian Times, the Indian government banned a total of 59 Chinese apps including the teen favourite TikTok. India’s IT ministry has announced the banning of 59 Chinese apps that include giants names like TikTok, ShareIt, UC Browser, Likee, WeChat, Weibo and Bigo Live.
The Indian ministry called the Chinese-owned applications as “prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, the security of the state and public order.” The Indian Cyber Crime Coordinate Centre under the Ministry of Home Affairs sent an exhaustive recommendation for blocking these “malicious apps”.
This marks the end of the “Weibo diplomacy” with China that started in 2015 as a means to directly communicate with the people of China before Modi’s first visit there. His first message said, “Hello China! Looking forward to interacting with Chinese friends through Weibo”. He had 2.44 lakh followers on the application.
“Prime Minister Modi had 115 posts on Weibo. It was decided to manually delete them and after much effort, 113 posts were removed,” said a source.
“There were two posts left where PM Modi and these are posts with photos with President Xi. On Weibo, it is difficult to remove posts with the photo of the Chinese President. Which is why, two posts still remained,” said a source. A government official said that for reasons best known to the Chinese, there was great delay in granting this basic permission.
“Some believe Modi should have been a little thicker skinned, comparing his action to that of the U.S. ambassador to China who maintains his Weibo page despite being the subject of longstanding criticism from Chinese netizens,” wrote CX Tech.
The state-run, Global Times described the ban as “deliberate interference in practical cooperation” between the two countries. It slammed the move stating “a lacklustre explanation for the nonsensical move”.
“If India’s sovereignty can be damaged by a handful of apps, just how vulnerable is it?” the paper said. “It was not long before Indians realised that turning nationalist rhetoric into action is more difficult, as there are no available and affordable alternatives to Chinese-made products such as smartphones, chemicals, automotive components and many other items… It seems that not only has the Modi government failed to rein in the rising nationalism among Indians, it has also yielded to domestic pressure and even encouraged such a boycott to escalate.”
It also warned of a dip in investment as the paper said that it surveyed experts who “predicted Chinese overseas direct investment (ODI) into India will drop sharply in 2020, with two experts forecasting a more than 50 per cent cut.”
“Bad feelings go both ways, and the chance for China-India relationship to pick up in the short-term is slim. Chinese investors are on the edge with risk-aversion instinct kicking in,” Qian Feng, director of the research department of the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University.
China’s Ministry of Commerce spokesperson Gao Feng said that India’s app ban could have possibly violated the World Trade Organization’s rules and commitments. “We hope that India can immediately correct its discriminatory practices against China and Chinese enterprises”, Feng added.