Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi quit the Chinese social media site Weibo on Wednesday after his government took the decision to ban 59 Chinese apps on the grounds that they represented a threat to national security.
Modi’s government recently made the decision to ban 59 Chinese apps, including Weibo and the popular video-sharing service TikTok, following violent clashes between Indian troops and members of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) at the disputed border region of Ladakh. At least 20 Indians died in the clashes and an unknown number of Chinese.
On announcing the boycott, Modi’s administration accused China of engagement in “activities which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defense of India, security of state and public order.”
The statement further explained that India’s Ministry of Information Technology had “received many complaints from various sources, including several reports about the misuse of some mobile apps available on Android and iOS platforms for stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data in an unauthorized manner to servers … outside India.”
The General Secretary of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, B. L. Santhosh, said in a statement that Modi intended to send a “strong message” to China on a variety of issues.
“After [government] move of banning 59 Chinese Apps, PM Narendra Modi exits from Chinese social media platform WEIBO also,” he said on Twitter. “Strong message at the border, on economic front [and] at a personal level too.”
After Govt move of banning 59 Chinese Apps , PM @narendramodi exits from Chinese social media platform WEIBO also …. Strong message at the border , on economic front & at personal level too … #IndiaChinaFaceOff
— B L Santhosh (@blsanthosh) July 1, 2020
According to reports, Modi decided to quit Weibo as soon as he made the decision to blacklist 59 Chinese apps in India. Yet unlike most social networks, Weibo has a more complicated process for public figures leaving the platform.
Instead of having his account removed immediately, moderators had to manually delete 113 of his 115 posts. Two of the posts were photos of Modi with Chinese dictator Xi Jinping, a fact that reportedly complicated the process of deletion. Although Modi’s account is now inactive, it still remains on the platform with his 244,000 followers.
The BJP’s technology spokesperson Amit Malviya argued that his decision to quit the platform sent out a message “loud and clear” to China. He added that it may “just be the beginning” of multiple areas of conflict between the two powers, which together are home to approximately 2.7 billion people, around 37 percent of the global population.
“Prime Minister Modi quits the Chinese social media platform Weibo. The message is loud and clear. If red lines are crossed, there will be consequences,” he tweeted. “What started at the borders has now acquired multiple dimensions. And it may just be the beginning.”
Prime Minister Modi quits Chinese social media platform Weibo. The message is loud and clear. If red lines are crossed, there will be consequences…
What started at the borders has now acquired multiple dimensions. And it may just be the beginning…
— Amit Malviya (@amitmalviya) July 1, 2020