After ban on 59 apps, spotlight now on start-ups backed by Chinese investments

Many people have welcomed the government’s decision to ban 59 Chinese apps, including PayTm chief Vijay Shekhar Sharma. He has termed the ban on Chinese apps a bold step.

Despite the show of solidarity, it is entirely plausible that start-ups like Paytm with large Chinese shareholding maybe feeling the heat. Congress leader and Tamil Nadu MP Manickam Tagore has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ban e-commerce mobile application Paytm.

After the recent clash between Indian and Chinese soldiers at the LAC in Galwan Valley, Ladakh there have been calls to hit China economically. Social media has been flooded with calls to boycott Chinese products, reports say Chinese imports are facing closer scrutiny at ports and some tenders to Chinese equipment companies have been cancelled.

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Next in focus is India’s start-up ecosystem which some experts claim Chinese investment is as high as $4bn. Research firm Gateway house says Chinese investors have already cornered major stake in 18 out of India’s top 30 Unicorns and start-ups like Paytm, Big Basket, Byju’s, Delhivery, Flipkart, Hike, MakeMyTrip, Ola, Oyo, PolicyBazzar, Quikr, Rivigo, Snapdeal, Swiggy, Uddan, Zomato.


Education App Byjus has Chinese Tencent prominently mentioned as one of its big investors. Tencent owns 10.4% in Ola and 5% in Flipkart. One97 Communications, the parent of PayTm counts Jack Ma’s Alibaba and Ant Financial as big investors holding about 42% stake in the company. Alibaba holds 26.6% stake in Bigbasket and around the same amount in Zomato. Chinese newspaper the People’s Daily had recently revealed that Jack Ma, the head of Alibaba Group and China’s best-known capitalist, is a Communist Party member. We will never know if, and when political affiliations could trump business decisions.

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All start-up have raised money through different rounds of investments over the years and would have given different rights to their shareholders. To get these foreign investors to forsake their investment in Indian start-ups will be much tougher, as most of these apps are run by Indians, generate huge employment and have laws backing investors rights.

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