After crossing millions of downloads in India, the popular Google Play Store app “Remove China Apps” has been taken down by Google. The app which had gained popularity in India crossing over 5 million downloads since its release in May was pulled down on account of violating the Google Play Store’s policies.
The anti-China sentiment in India has been growing over the last few weeks due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, and as a result, millions of Indians posting on social media to boycott Chinese products including mobile apps. Capitalizing on the sentiment, Jaipur-based OneTouch AppLabs released an app called “Remove China Apps” on the Google Play Store on May 17th. The app has soared in popularity while reaching over one million downloads in less than two weeks and securing the second spot in Google.
The developers of the app confirmed that it was suspended by Google. The developers even said that while the ‘Remove China Apps’ has been removed those who already have the app installed can continue to use it. However, as per Google, the users need to aware note using an Android app not verified by Google has its risks
A Google spokesman confirmed that the app has been removed due to violation of app store policies, without giving any further details.
Despite the fact the main reason behind the suspension of the app from the Play Store is not known, it suggests that it violated the Deceptive Behavior Policy. The app was registered by the creators under the Educational Purposes section on Play Store, but it actively detected third-party apps on the user’s device and suggested removing Chinese ones.
Under the Deceptive Behavior Policy, an app on Google Play Store is not allowed to make changes to a user’s device settings, or features outside of the app without the user’s knowledge and consent, and it cannot encourage users to disable third-party apps. Google Play Store does not permit any racist app as well. Also as per Google’s policy for Android apps, any app must not attempt to mimic functionality or warnings from other apps.
The move by Google to remove this app which is racist as per them has not pleased too many people. Moreover, several Indian celebrities in recent days have been backing the idea of deleting Chinese apps
‘Remove China Apps’ gained popularity in India because of a growing anti-China sentiment among many citizens as the tension between the two countries over the Ladakh region has escalated in recent days. The recent social media backlash against TikTok has also added as fuel to the fire.
India’s Prime Minister has also been assertively promoting the idea of boycotting goods made by foreign firms and advised the nation to look for local alternatives to revive the economy.
However, reports from China suggest if the Government of India allows anti-China sentiment to prevail there is a risk of ruining bilateral relations with Beijing.
India’s TikTok rival Mitron app was also removed from the Google Play Store. The Mitron app had also crossed 5 million downloads within a month of its launch on the Play Store. Again the exact reason for removing the app in this case is also not known. However, as per Google’s policy, copying content from other applications without any changes to the source code or value addition is a violation. The Security experts had also targeted this app over data security issues.