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The Indian government has banned over 300 apps and online services over the past few years in response to security concerns due to alleged links with China.
Political tensions between the two superpowers began with border clashes in 2020, and have continued into the present day. They claim that the apps are a threat to both privacy and security, and could be “engaged in activities prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of the country.”
Banned Indian apps include the likes of TikTok, while the most recent wave included the popular game Garena Free Fire. A VPN is one of the best methods to ensure that your data is safe and secure while unblocking Netflix and other streaming services with ease. We’ll take you through everything you need to know below.
Unblock your favorite apps & services with a secure VPN.
India is one of the largest markets in terms of mobile app usage, while chat and social networking apps are widely popular. For example, it’s estimated that there are 750 million smartphone users in the country, with projections showing that number could pass 900 million by 2023.
Statista has put together a helpful infographic that shows which app types have been banned in India since June 2020.
As you can see, tools and games make up almost half (47%) of the apps that have been banned in the country. Social apps are also significant, making up 18% in total.
Altogether, it makes for a varied list, but they all have something in common. Each has a link to China, and the ban has targeted apps produced by major technology companies such as Tencent Holdings, Alibaba Group Holding, and NetEase.
We’ve listed a majority of the blocked apps and services below, in the order in which they were first removed.
Social Media Apps Banned
A variety of popular social media and messaging apps have been blocked for users in India.
TikTok – Possibly the best-known service to fall under the ban hammer, TikTok is a popular video-sharing platform.
WeChat – WeChat was banned in India in June 2020. The app is mainly for online communications, although it can also be used for payments. In a 2016 report looking at the privacy of messenger apps, compiled by rights activists Amnesty International, WeChat owner Tencent scored 0 out of 100. They noted: “Not only did it fail to adequately meet any of the criteria, but it was the only company which has not stated publicly that it will not grant government requests to access encrypted messages by building a ‘backdoor'”.
Helo – The ban caused Helo’s India head Rohan Mishra to quit the company within five months of joining.
Weibo – Prime Minister Narendra Modi used to have a Weibo account until tensions rose between the two countries.
Gaming Apps Banned
India is a massive market for online gaming, often making up a significant portion of a player-base for popular titles.
Garena Free Fire – 40 million of Garena Free Fire’s global monthly active users are based in India, according to stats obtained by TechCrunch.
PUBG – Krafton, which originally owned the intellectual property rights to battle royale game PUBG, severed ties with Tencent to get around the ban in the region. Battlegrounds Mobile India was the final result, and is still available in the country.
Tool Apps Banned
The loss of gaming and social media apps is one thing, but blocking tools and payment platforms introduce a number of issues.
Alipay – Alipay overtook PayPal as the world’s largest mobile payment platform in 2013, although it’s blocked for Indian users.
AliExpress – Online retail service AliExpress has been blocked since November 2020.
Baidu – The equivalent of Google in China, Baidu offers a number of services, including search engines and maps.
Full List of Apps Banned in India
Here’s a full list of the various Chinese apps banned in India since 2020.
Apps banned: June 2020
In June 2020, we saw the first wave of apps that were banned, including big names like TikTok and Weibo. In total, 58 apps were taken off the market. (It was also the same month in which a clash took place along the Sino-Indian border.)
Clash of Kings
DU battery saver
30. Parallel Space 31. Mi Video Call Xiaomi 32. WeSync 33. ES File Explorer 34. Viva Video QU Video Inc 35. Meitu 36. Vigo Video 37. New Video Status 38. DU Recorder 39. Vault-Hide 40. Cache Cleaner DU App studio 41. DU Cleaner 42. DU Browser 43. Hago Play With New Friends 44. Cam Scanner 45. Clean Master Cheetah Mobile 46. Wonder Camera 47. Photo Wonder 48. QQ Player 49. We Meet 50. Sweet Selfie 51. Baidu Translate 52. Vmate 53. QQ International 54. QQ Security Center 55. QQ Launcher 56. U Video 57. V fly Status Video 58. Mobile Legend
Apps banned: September 2020
It only took three months for a further 118 apps to be removed due to links with China. This time, the ban wave wasn’t announced to the public and included the likes of Baidu.
1. Baidu 2. PUBG MOBILE Nordic Map: Livik 3. PUBG MOBILE LITE 4. Rise of Kingdoms: Lost Crusade 5. APUS Flashlight-Free & Bright 6. Cut Cut Cut Out & Photo Background Editor 7. APUS Launcher Pro- Theme, Live Wallpapers, Smart 8. Baidu Express Edition 9. FaceU Inspire your Beauty 10. ShareSave by Xiaomi: Latest gadgets, amazing deals 11. CamCard Business Card Reader 12. CamCard Business 13. CamCard for Salesforce 14. CamOCR 15. InNote 16. VooV Meeting Tencent Video Conferencing 17. APUS Launcher-Theme, Call Show, Wallpaper, HideApps 18. WeChat reading 19. Government WeChat 20. Small Q brush 21. Tencent Weiyun 22. Pitu 23. WeChat Work 24. Cyber Hunter 25. Cyber Hunter Lite 26. Knives Out-No rules, just fight! 27. Super Mecha Champions 28. LifeAfter 29. Dawn of Isles 30. Ludo World-Ludo Superstar 31. Chess Rush 32. Super Clean Master of Cleaner, Phone Booster 33. APUS Security-Antivirus, Phone security, Cleaner 34. APUS Turbo Cleaner 2020- Junk Cleaner, Anti-Virus 35. Art of Conquest: Dark Horizon 36. Dank Tanks 37. Warpath 38. Game of Sultans 39. Gallery Vault Hide Pictures And Videos 40. Smart AppLock (App Protect) 41. Message Lock (SMS Lock)-Gallery Vault Developer Team 42. Hide App-Hide Application Icon 43. AppLock 44. AppLock Lite 45. Dual Space Multiple Accounts & App Cloner 46. ZAKZAK Pro Live chat & video chat online 47. ZAKZAK LIVE: live-streaming & video chat app 48. Music Mp3 Player 49. Music Player Audio Player & 10 Bands Equalizer 50. HD Camera Selfie Beauty Camera 51. Cleaner Phone Booster 52. Web Browser & Fast Explorer 53. Video Player All Format for Android 54. Photo Gallery HD & Editor 55. Photo Gallery & Album 56. Music Player Bass Booster Free Download 57. HD Camera Beauty Cam with Filters & Panorama 58. HD Camera Pro & Selfie Camera 59. Music Player MP3 Player & 10 Bands Equalizer 60. Gallery HD 61. Web Browser Fast, Privacy & Light Web Explorer
62. Web Browser Secure Explorer 63. Music player Audio Player 64. Video Player All Format HD Video Player 65. Lamour Love All Over The World 66. Amour- video chat & call all over the world.67. MV Master Make Your Status Video & Community 68. MV Master Best Video Maker & Photo Video Editor 69. APUS Message Center-Intelligent management 70. LivU Meet new people & Video chat with strangers 71. Carrom Friends : Carrom Board & Pool Game- 72. Ludo All Star- Play Online Ludo Game & Board Games 73. Bike Racing: Moto Traffic Rider Bike Racing Games 74. Rangers Of Oblivion: Online Action MMO RPG Game 75. Z Camera Photo Editor, Beauty Selfie, Collage 76. GO SMS Pro Messenger, Free Themes, Emoji 77. U-Dictionary: Oxford Dictionary Free Now Translate 78. Ulike Define your selfie in trendy style 79. Tantan Date For Real 80. MICO Chat: New Friends Banaen our Live Chat Karen 81. Kitty Live Live Streaming & Video Live Chat 82. Malay Social Dating App to Date & Meet Singles 83. Alipay 84. AlipayHK 85. Mobile Taobao 86. Youku 87. Road of Kings- Endless Glory 88. Sina News 89. Netease News 90. Penguin FM 91. Murderous Pursuits 92. Tencent Watchlist 93. Learn Chinese AI-Super Chinese 94. HUYA LIVE Game Live Stream 95. Little Q Album 96. Fighting Landlords Free and happy Fighting Landlords 97. Hi Meitu 98. Mobile Legends: Pocket 99. VPN for TikTok 100. VPN for TikTok 101. Penguin E-sports Live assistant 102. Buy Cars 103. iPick 104. Beauty Camera Plus Sweet Camera & Face Selfie 105. Parallel Space Lite Dual App 106. “Chief Almighty: First Thunder BC 107. MARVEL Super War NetEase Games 108. AFK Arena 109. Creative Destruction NetEase Games 110. Crusaders of Light NetEase Games 111. Mafia City Yotta Games 112. Onmyoji NetEase Games 113. Ride Out Heroes NetEase Games 114. Yimeng Jianghu-Chu Liuxiang 115. Legend: Rising Empire NetEase Games 116. Arena of Valor: 5v5 Arena Games 117. Soul Hunters 118. Rules of Survival
Apps banned: November 2020
Finally, another 43 apps were removed in November 2020, bringing the total to over 200.
1. AliExpress 2. Alibaba Workbench 3. Adore App 4. Alipay Cashier 5. Lalamove India Delivery App 6. Drive with Lalamove India 7. AliSuppliers Mobile App 8. CamCard Business Card Reader 9. CamCard BCR (Western) 10. Soul- Follow the soul to find you 11. Chinese Social Free Online Dating Video App & Chat 12. Date in Asia Dating & Chat For Asian Singles 13. WeDate-Dating App 14. Free dating app-Singol, start your date! 15. Snack Video 16. TrulyChinese Chinese Dating App 17. TrulyAsian Asian Dating App 18. ChinaLove: dating app for Chinese singles 19. DateMyAge: Chat, Meet, Date Mature Singles Online 20. AsianDate: find Asian singles 21. FlirtWish: chat with singles 22. Guys Only Dating: Gay Chat
23. Tubit: Live Streams 24. WeWorkChina 25. First Love Live 26. Rela Lesbian Social Network 27. Cashier Wallet 28. MangoTV 29. MGTV-HunanTV official TV APP 30. WeTV TV version 31. WeTV Cdrama, Kdrama&More 32. WeTV Lite 33. Lucky Live-Live Video Streaming App 34. Taobao Live 35. DingTalk 36. Identity V 37. Isoland 2: Ashes of Time 38. BoxStar (Early Access) 39. Heroes Evolved 40. Happy Fish 41. Jellipop Match-Decorate your dream island 42. Munchkin Match: magic home building 43. Conquista Online II
Apps banned: February 2022
All was quiet until February 2022, which saw a further 54 apps removed from Indian stores.
1. Garena Free Fire 2. Beauty Camera Selfie Camera 3. Lica Cam selfie camera app 4. Music Player- Music.Mp3 Player 5. Voice Recorder & Voice Changer 6. Music Plus MP3 Player 7. Equalizer Pro Volume Booster & Bass Booster 8. Viva Video Editor Snack Video Maker with Music 9. Music Player Equalizer & MP3 10. Volume Booster Loud Speaker & Sound Booster 11. Music Player MP3 Player 12. CamCard for SalesForce Ent 13. Isoland 2: Ashes of Time Lite 14. Rise of Kingdoms: Lost Crusade 15. APUS Security HD (Pad Version) 16. Parallel Space Lite 32 Support 17. Video Player Media All Format 18. Nice video baidu 19. Tencent Xriver 20. Onmyoji Chess 21. Onmyoji Arena 22. AppLock 23. Dual Space Lite Multiple Accounts & Clone App 24. Dual Space Pro Multiple Accounts & App Cloner 25. DualSpace Lite 32Bit Support 26. Dual Space 32Bit Support 27. Dual Space 64Bit Support
28. Dual Space Pro 32Bit Support 29. Conquer Online MMORPG Game 30. Conquer Online Il 31. Live Weather & Radar Alerts 32. Notes- Color Notepad, Notebook 33. MP3 Cutter Ringtone Maker & Audio Cutter 34. Equalizer & Bass Booster Music Volume EQ 35. Barcode Scanner QR Code Scan 36. Equalizer Bass Booster & Volume EQ & Virtualizer 37. EVE Echoes 38. Astracraft 39. UU Game Booster-network solution for high ping 40. Extraordinary Ones 41. Badlanders 42. Stick Fight: The Game Mobile 43. Twilight Pioneers 44. CuteU: Match With The World 45. Small World-Enjoy group chat and video chat 46. CuteU Pro 47. FancvU Video Chat & Meetup 48. Real: Go Live. Make Friends 49. MoonChat: Enjoy Video Chats 50. Real Lite -video to live! 51. Wink: Connect Now 52. FunChat Meet People Around You 53. FancyU pro Instant Meetup through Video chat! 54. Beauty Camera: Sweet Selfie HD
The Best VPNs for India
Luckily, it’s easy to access blocked services in India. A virtual private network (VPN) allows the user to mask their IP address by connecting to encrypted servers dotted around the world.
You’ll be able to download and access any blocked apps and services, along with a host of additional entertainment options such as Netflix.
We’d be wary when using free VPN apps, which often lack the speeds necessary for online gaming, or even watching videos. Then there’s the fact that many can’t be trusted with your personal data.
Instead, we’d recommend the use of a premium provider. We’ll list a trio of the best VPNs for India below.
NordVPN is always a great choice if you’re in need of a capable provider with an extensive server network. At the current time of writing, NordVPN has 30 servers located in India, although you won’t be able to use them to access banned Chinese apps!
Instead, we’d look to their 5,423 ultra-fast servers located in 60 countries, which are great for anything from online gaming to accessing streaming servers. NordVPN can also be trusted to keep your data safe, having taken part in numerous third-party audits with the likes of PricewaterhouseCoopers AG.
CyberGhost is another provider that benefits from a massive server network (7,600+), including 24 which are physically located in India. These can also be used for P2P purposes, as seen in the image below.
It’s perfect for gaming thanks to quick speeds and unlimited bandwidth, while you’ll also be able to unblock Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, BBC iPlayer, and plenty of other streaming platforms. You’ll also be able to unblock Hotstar whenever you’re out of the country.
Last, but by no means least, IPVanish will unblock numerous apps and services, including many banned in India. They have a handful of servers found in the region, split across Mumbai and New Delhi. This is complemented by a further 1,900+ servers in 75+ different locations around the globe.
It might not be the largest number, but IPVanish owns the entire server network with no outsourcing to third parties. This guarantees no network interference from outside influences or loss of their network to unwanted acquisitions or shutdowns.
The list of banned Indian apps continues to grow after a quiet spell in 2021, and a number of popular games and services will be gone for the foreseeable future. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more being blocked over the coming months.
The dispute with China means little to the average user, although they’re likely to notice that many popular apps and services have disappeared.
A trusted VPN for India is one of the quickest ways to unblock almost anything and ensures that nobody will be able to scoop up your personal data in the process.
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