Indian app hunts out Chinese software on phones

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OneTouch Apps

Image caption

The app scans a phone for Chinese apps and lists them

An Android app that highlights apps of Chinese-origin to help people delete them, has had one million downloads since it was launched in May.

It has proved popular in India, where tensions with China are high over a disputed border in the Himalayas.

The Remove China Apps service highlights TikTok, which is owned by Beijing-based Bytedance.

But it also flags up Zoom, which is based in California but was founded by an entrepreneur who was born in China.

Fans have helped it gain publicity via social media posts, in which they suggest alternative apps to the ones highlighted by the app.

But critics have said the service is stoking anti-China sentiment, which was already on the rise after the emergence of Covid-19 in the city of Wuhan.

Boycott calls

The software was developed by the Indian firm One Touch AppLabs.

Among the other apps it highlights are:

  • ShareIt, which allows people to transfer files including photos, video and music
  • CamScanner, which allows users to use their phones to scan images and turn them into PDF documents
  • UC browser, a Chinese web browser owned by Alibaba

However, it cannot detect apps that were pre-installed on Chinese-made smartphones.

Developers on Beluga Whale, an online community for China’s app makers, have called on others to report the app to Google, calling it a “form of market disruption”.

One told the news site Techcrunch: “I think what happens in India will happen in other countries in the future, so this is a long-term impact that should factor into China developers’ calculation.”

Tensions have risen between India and China after Chinese troops moved into what had been regarded by India as its territory in the disputed Kashmir region.

Indian engineer Sonam Wangchuk posted a video on YouTube suggesting that Indians should boycott everything Chinese, which to date, has had two million views.

Since then hashtags #boycottChina, #boycottmadeinChina and #boycottChineseapps have trended on social media.

Bollywood actor Milind Soman, who has more than 99,000 Twitter followers, took to the platform to say he had uninstalled TikTok.

It marks a further setback for the video-clip app, which recently suffered a backlash in India over a spoof acid attack clip that led to users posting millions of one star reviews via Google’s Play store.

Neither Google nor TikTok responded to requests for comment.