Remove China Apps, an Android app that identifies and delete Chinese apps on their smartphones, is currently trending in India, ranking second on the list of top free apps on Google Play.
As its name suggests, the free app can detect all Chinese-made apps installed on users' smartphones, although its developer claims that it only identifies "the country of origin of a certain application[s]."
Android Authority ran the app on Pixel 3, showing that Xiaomi's Mi Remote app and TikTok were recognized by it. However, it failed to include PUBG Mobile in the list, an app largely developed by China-based Tencent Games. Some users also reported that Remove China Apps can only identify apps downloaded from Google Play or other third-party app stores on their phones, so pre-installed ones on their handsets made by Chinese companies are often left alone.
It's worth noting that Chinese manufacturers like Xiaomi, Oppo, and Vivo top the list of smartphone sales in India. According to Counterpoint, in the first quarter of 2020, Xiaomi accounted for 30% of the Indian smartphone shipment market, Vivo seized 17%, Oppo, with its sub-brand Realme, hold 26%. Together, the three Chinese handset makers enjoy 76% of the market.
Some Reddit users from India pointed out that since the app can run through the smartphone without permission and figure out which apps are Chinese, there is no guarantee of personal data privacy, which, ironically, is what Chinese apps worry about international users in the first place.
"This is crazy. I cannot believe people seriously use stuff like this, especially when one of the main concerns about China-made applications is privacy," guysguy posted on Reddit.
Several anonymous sources told the Chinese tech media Zhixiang that the app may be developed by an Indian ex-employee who was recently laid off by a Chinese technology company, without naming the company.
The app went rival, gaining over 1 million downloads within two weeks as anti-China sentiments have risen in India due to the spread of COVID-19 in India as well as border confrontations. According to Takshashila Institution, 67% of Indians believe that China should be responsible for the pandemic.
Public opinion towards China looms over the expansion of several Chinese tech companies. TikTok, made by China's ByteDance, observed a drop in India's downloads in April and May, and its overall rating dropped to one star, while local competitor Mitron has been downloaded more than five million times.
With a population of 1.3 billion, India has long been hailed by the US and Chinese internet companies as the next billion, a techspeak term for emerging markets with huge populations. Chinese tech titans, such as Alibaba, Tencent, and Meituan, have invested and supported multiple startups in the emerging country in attempts to grasp new opportunities, and in the meantime, raise proxies in preparation for new battles for market share.
ByteDance is reportedly setting up a second corporate entity in India, one of its largest overseas markets besides North America. The Economic Times reported that ByteDance is looking to ramp up its workforce in India, citing a source familiar with the matter.