TikTok sees rising anti-China content in India on border dispute
The Chinese short-videos app has often been accused of scrubbing the platform of anti-China posts. If the India-China border conflict escalates, calls to boycott Chinese products, including popular mobile phones and Chinese apps, are expected to grow, analysts said.
BENGALURU: Anti-China hashtags, common on other social networks, have reached TikTok in India, following the killing of 20 Indian soldiers in a violent clash with Chinese troops in Ladakh earlier this week.
Hashtags such as #BoycottChineseProducts received 7.2 million views, while #IndiaChinaborder got 9.7 million views, #Chinaborder 11.5 million views and #Ladakhborder about 133,700 views.
Most videos with these hashtags glorified the Indian army, urged users to boycott Chinese products in support of the army, and mourned the death of Indian soldiers.
One user showed a man throwing a TV off his balcony under the hashtag #BoycottChineseProducts, while another accused celebrities and businessmen of promoting Chinese products in the country.
The Chinese short-videos app has often been accused of scrubbing the platform of anti-China posts.
If the India-China border conflict escalates, calls to boycott Chinese products, including popular mobile phones and Chinese apps, are expected to grow, analysts said.
“It is ironic to find anti-China hashtags on a Chinese platform but it was bound to happen. TikTok will not take them down because if someone finds out they did, it will get 100 times worse for them,” said Karthik Srinivasan, an independent communications consultant and former national lead, social, at Ogilvy.
“Many of the users trending anti-China TikTok may uninstall the app. It is easy to showcase anger against China by uninstalling TikTok. Not everyone can afford to throw their TV away,” he added.
TikTok declined to comment.
Officially, TikTok takes down videos only if they violate community guidelines. However, it has come under fire globally for taking down anti-China message videos on its platform.
TikTok, which allows users to create short videos with special effects, has gained in popularity among Indian teenagers and adults alike. Last year, it claimed to have 120 million monthly active users in the country. However, its Chinese ownership has caused concern in New Delhi.
Over the past three months, several anti-TikTok social media campaigns have done the rounds asking Indians to delete the ‘anti-national’ Chinese app. It has been accused of promoting anti-India content and going slow on taking down sleazy and hateful content.
ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, has been trying to shed its reputation of being a pro-Chinese government internet company that censors content critical of the Chinese Communist Party.
ByteDance is in fact looking to expand its internet empire globally, including a foray into banking.
It has quietly made a series of moves in recent months to transfer global decision-making and research capabilities out of its home country, news agency Reuters reported in May, apart from the high-profile announcement of naming Disney’s Kevin Meyer as TikTok’s CEO.
This, analysts said, was ByteDance’s strategy to avoid intense regulatory scrutiny in the United States and India.
Last year, ByteDance said it would open data centres in India amid allegations that it was sending data of Indian citizens back to China.