New Delhi (AFP)

Cut the music! Banned by India for reasons of national security after a deadly military confrontation with China, the Chinese platform TikTok defended Tuesday to have communicated data of Indian users in Beijing.

The social network is at the top of the list of 59 Chinese applications published Monday evening by New Delhi, which ordered their blocking in the country to "ensure the security and sovereignty of the Indian cyberspace".

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government decision comes two weeks after an extremely deadly clash between the Indian and Chinese armies over a border dispute in the Himalayas, which sparked calls to boycott Chinese products in the Asian giant from South.

This ban is a major setback for TikTok, which is extremely popular with young Indians. The latter are fond of these videos of a few tens of seconds where they take the stage singing in playback, playing sketches or dancing against a background of music. Anonymous people have become stars in India thanks to their TikTok account.

"TikTok continues to respect the security and privacy of data under Indian law and has not shared any information about our users in India with foreign governments, including the Chinese government," said the Indian branch on Tuesday. of the company, owned by the Chinese group ByteDance, in a press release.

India represents one of the most important markets for TikTok internationally. Indians make up a third of its global users, according to Sensor Tower.

"TikTok has democratized the internet by being accessible in 14 Indian languages, with hundreds of millions of users, artists, storytellers, educators and performers depending on it for a living, many of them them being first-time internet users ", regretted the application in its press release.

- Close combat -

AFP journalists in India were still able to access the application on Tuesday morning. TikTok indicated "being in the process of complying with" the blocking order.

The ban on Chinese applications, which also concerns WeChat, Weibo and the game Clash of Kings, is part of a context of sharp tensions between New Delhi and Beijing.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that it was "deeply concerned" by the announcement and said it was monitoring the situation closely.

Troops from the two most populous nations in the world clashed on June 15 in an extremely violent melee in a disputed valley in Ladakh (northern India), the first deadly confrontation between their armies in 45 years.

The shock left 20 dead on the Indian side, and an unknown number of victims in the Chinese ranks. The deaths of Indian soldiers sparked outrage in India and sparked an anti-Chinese fever, which put pressure on the Hindu nationalist government.

A large group of hotels in New Delhi has announced its refusal to welcome Chinese customers. The Chinese mobile phone manufacturer Xiaomi, market leader in India, where it also has factories, must hide its signs and logos behind large banners proclaiming "Made in India".

India's blocking of Chinese apps "works as a protest but we have to be very careful about the escalation right now," Manoj Joshi of the Indian think tank Observer Research Foundation told AFP, saying that "New Delhi has no easy options".

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is due to address the nation on Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. local time (10:30 a.m. GMT) but it is unclear whether he will address the issue of Indo-Chinese tensions.

© 2020 AFP