Google has cut off access to an app called “Remove China Apps” in India that helped people identify and delete Chinese-linked apps on their smartphones, TechCrunch reported on Wednesday.
The American multinational tech company removed the app from its Google Play Store on Tuesday, citing violation of its “deceptive behavior policy,” according to the Nikkei Asian Review.
The app has been marketed as “educational” by its Indian developer, OneTouch AppLabs, because it informs users how to recognize and properly disable apps with Chinese origin. Amid increasing tension between the two countries, including an ongoing border dispute in the Himalayas, the Remove China App has become extremely popular with Indians in recent weeks, briefly becoming the most popular app in India’s Google Play store. According to the report, the app had been downloaded over one million times within ten days of its launch on May 17, and over five million times in total.
On Wednesday, OneTouch AppLabs announced via Twitter that the app had been removed from the Google Play Store, but did not explain why the app was axed, according to the report.
On its website, OneTouch AppLabs cited Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s encouragement in April for India to become “self-reliant” and less dependent on China as inspiration for its Remove China App. The urging has worked, with many influential Indian celebrities and politicians supporting a boycott of Chinese products, including technology apps.
According to TechCrunch, the hashtag “#BoycottChineseProducts” has been trending on Indian Twitter in recent weeks, with many prominent Indian citizens pledging to stop buying and using Chinese goods.
Indian actor Milind Soman posted a video to social media on May 29, announcing that he would delete the Chinese video-sharing app TikTok from his phone. Soman’s denouncing of Chinese goods was shared the next day by Nupur Sharma, a spokeswoman for India’s ruling party BJP. She applauded the actor’s message, adding that it was “great to see concerned citizens setting an example” and “we ought to hit them [China] where it hurts most.”
Google says that it prohibits apps that “attempt to deceive users or enable dishonest behavior,” according to its Developer Program Policies posted on the Play Store website. According to these policies, Google also prohibits apps from encouraging or incentivizing users into removing or disabling third-party apps unless it is part of a verifiable security service.