India's technology ministry said the apps threatened the country's sovereignty and integrity and that the apps "collect and share data in a surreptitious manner and compromise personal data and information of users that can have a severe threat to the security of the State."
In addition to PUBG, the banned apps include Baidu, Baidu Express Edition, Tencent Watchlist, FaceU, WeChat Reading and Tencent Weiyun.
According to the Hindustan Times, there are nearly 33 million active "PUBG" players in India, making it one of the most popular apps downloaded in the country.
A man looks at the "PUBG Mobile" game, owned by Chinese internet giant Tencent, in the App Store on an Apple iPhone in New Delhi on Sept. 2, 2020. (Jewel SAMAD / AFP) (Photo by JEWEL SAMAD/AFP via Getty Images)
In July, India pulled the plug on 59 Chinese apps, including TikTok, in response to a border clash with China, where more than 20 Indian soldiers died.
"They want to send a message," digital rights activist Nikhil Pahwa said at the time. "This is a decision based on a geopolitical situation."
Chinese-owned apps have found a fast-growing market in India, with some companies creating India-specific apps that have exploded in popularity. India is one of TikTok's largest markets, with nearly 30% of TikTok's 2 billion downloads coming from India.
Banning Chinese apps could be a double-edged sword for India.
In the longer term, Chinese companies might avoid investing in India’s technology sector and Indian startups might be reluctant to accept Chinese investments for fear of repercussions, said Shaun Rein, managing director of market intelligence firm China Market Research Group.
“Chinese investors are going to become very wary of investing in India. They’ll be worried that they might invest billions of dollars into the country and either Indian consumers will boycott and protest against them, or the government will just ban them because they’re backed by Chinese,” Rein said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.