An app that offers to scan and remove â€˜China appsâ€™ from your phone has become very successful in India.
It appears to be riding a wave of anti-Chinese sentiment following the coronavirus pandemic. The app is literally called Remove China Apps and it crossed one million downloads in India a mere ten days after launching.
Irrespective of coronavirus, there are also tensions between India and China over a disputed border in the Himalayas.
Once installed, the app scans the users phone and presents a list of apps believed to be developed in China â€“ with TikTok being a prominent example. It then gives users the option to delete the apps if they wish.
If it thinks there are no Chinese apps on a phone it displays an inflammatory message: â€˜You are awesome, No China app found in your system.â€™
Despite the popularity it seems to have amassed, India is an important market for Chinese technology companies. Manufacturers like Oppo and Xiaomi have taken the Indian market by storm with low-cost Android smartphones.
Itâ€™s not clear exactly how the app identifies an app as Chinese. The company behind it, Onetouch Applabs, has a stock WordPress website with this app apparently its only product.
â€˜This application is being developed for educational purposes only to identify the country of origin of a certain application(s), we do not promote or force people to uninstall any of the application(s),â€™ the company explains.
â€˜Detecting the country of origin is based on the market research but we do not guarantee for any correct/wrong information, so users should act only at their own will.â€™
Despite the shadyness of the app, itâ€™s undeniably become popular. It is listed at number two on the Google Play Storeâ€™s list of top free apps in India.
Although consigned to India at the moment, there are worrying signs that this kind of anti-Chinese thinking could spread as a result of the pandemic.
As the virus spread from its origins in China and first started to take hold in the UK, we saw an unnerving spike in racial hostility towards the Asian community in the UK.
Chinese restaurants were empty and Asian people faced physical and verbal abuse in the streets. This likely wasnâ€™t helped by the US president using his platform to call COVID-19 the â€˜Chinese virusâ€™ and â€˜kung fluâ€™ on multiple occasions.
â€˜We need to ensure that responses to the pandemic put racial justice at their heart,â€™ Scholar and social change campaigner Fatima Iftikhar, told Metro.co.uk.
â€˜It is easy in a crisis to revert to familiar ways of working, but in doing so, we could very easily end up reinforcing structures of racial inequality.â€™