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‘Remove China Apps’ nixed from Google app store after hitting number one in India

Image credit: reuters

Google has removed an app designed to alert users about which Chinese-origin apps are installed on their smartphones after it briefly became the most popular available on India’s app store.

The 'Remove China Apps' app was removed for breaching Google Play policies that forbid Android apps that enable the deletion of other apps.

Its popularity suggests a rising distrust among Indians for Chinese-built apps amid a crackdown from the West on its largest smartphone firm Huawei over possible links to the Chinese state.

A local boycott of Chinese mobile apps has also been rising in popularity following a Himalayan border dispute between the two nations.

The app had become the top-trending free app on Google’s mobile app store in India with more than five million downloads since late May.

Data from Counterpoint Research shows that Chinese smartphone manufacturers currently make up over 70 per cent of the Indian market.

Some Chinese-origin apps have been major successes, such as TikTok which had 636m downloads in India even though it has been shown to have strong ties to the Chinese Government and removes content critical of the ruling Communist Party.

Remove China Apps scanned users’ phones for apps such as TikTok and Alibaba’s UC Browser. Once deleted, a message popped up saying: “You are awesome, no China app found.”

While it had a rating of 4.9 stars in the app store, it did not pick up on other apps with Chinese connections, such as battle-royale shooter PUBG mobile from Tencent, as well as apps that come pre-installed on Chinese smartphones.

Developer OneTouch AppLabs confirmed on its website that the app had been taken down and thanked users for their support.

China’s state-run Global Times, an English language newspaper, said that if the Indian Government allowed the “irrational” anti-Chinese sentiment to proliferate it would likely be met with a punishing response from Beijing. 

Speaking to the Global Times, Liu Dingding, a Beijing-based analyst, said: “From a pragmatic perspective, fanning such sentiment will do no good for India’s own industrial development as it needs economic and trade ties with China.”

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