TERMING THE decision to ban 59 mobile applications with Chinese links as a “digital strike”, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Thursday that while India wants peace, it is capable of giving a “befitting reply” if someone casts an “evil eye”.
Prasad, who holds the Communications, Electronics & Information Technology and Law & Justice portfolios, was addressing a virtual rally for West Bengal.
Defending the ban, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said while India is a “very open regime” and will continue to welcome foreign investments, “including in internet technologies”, these will have to be in accordance with the rules and regulations on “data security and privacy of individual data”.
The MEA’s comments came on a day when China called for reversal of the ban, saying India’s decision was “discriminatory” and “violates” the World Trade Organisation’s rules.
“We have banned 59 apps for the safety of the country and to safeguard people’s digital data… We won’t compromise on the issue of data security… We won’t compromise on the issue of national safety and security. India knows how to protect its borders and also knows how to carry out a digital strike,” said Prasad.
“Now you can hear about only two Cs: Coronavirus and China. We believe in peace and solve problems through discussion, but if somebody casts an evil eye on India, we will give a befitting reply. When people from China tried to create pressure on the LAC, our soldiers gave them a befitting reply… if our 20 jawans have sacrificed their lives, the toll is double on the Chinese side… You all must have noticed that they have not come out with any figure,” he said.
Prasad said people would remember the retaliatory action by India after the terror attacks in Uri and Pulwama. “When our PM is saying that the sacrifice of our jawans won’t go in vain, it has a meaning in terms of national security. Our government has the will to deliver. All of us are aware of the courage of our PM,” he said. Saying the country would neither “stop nor bow its head”, he said, “it’s not the India of 1962”.
His remarks came a day after his Cabinet colleague, Union Minister for Road Transport, Highways and MSME Nitin Gadkari, said Chinese companies would not be allowed in highway projects and Chinese investors would be barred from micro, small and medium enterprises.
Meanwhile, responding to questions at the weekly briefing, the MEA’s official spokesperson, Anurag Srivastava, said: “India has one of the most open regimes in the world for attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)… Similarly, in the area of digital technology and internet, India has adopted a very open regime.”
“The world’s largest software and internet applications companies are present in India. Naturally, while operating in India, they have to abide by our rules and regulations issued by the relevant ministries and departments, including those pertaining to data security and privacy of individual data. While we will continue to welcome foreign investments in India, including in the area of internet technologies, this will have to be in accordance with the rules and regulatory framework established by the government,” he said.
Earlier in the day, China’s Commerce Ministry spokesperson Gao Feng said Beijing hopes that “India would immediately correct the discriminatory practices against China and Chinese enterprises”.
Speaking in Beijing, he said: “China has not adopted any restrictive or discriminatory measures against Indian products and services… India’s relevant practices violate relevant World Trade Organisation rules.”
“The success of China-India economic and trade cooperation is the result of the joint efforts of the governments and enterprises of the two sides and serves the fundamental interests of the two people,” he said.
“China attaches great importance to strengthening practical cooperation with India in all fields and hopes that the two sides will meet each other halfway, earnestly implement the economic and trade consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries,” said Gao.
– With PTI, Beijing
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