India’s ban on 59 Chinese apps could mean the end of prime minister Narendra Modi’s social media diplomacy in China.
One of these banned apps is Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter, which Modi joined with much fanfare on May 4, 2015, just ahead of his official visit to China. As of yesterday (June 29), Modi’s following stood at 244,000 on Weibo.
The Modi government has been active on Weibo over the years.
In fact, on June 18, India’s foreign ministry had shared an official statement about the violence along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the demarcation between China’s and India’s territories. In his statement, the Indian spokesperson had urged China to restrict its activities to its side of the LAC. The statement was later deleted by the microblogging platform.
On June 19, prime minister Modi’s speech to heads of different Indian states about the situation at the border was also removed from Weibo.
Now, the ban hints at the possible end of the road for what began as a virtual hand of friendship.
Modi’s presence on Weibo was also marred by critical comments from followers, often talking about Tibet and Pakistan, two sore points between India and China. His popularity was eclipsed by actor Aamir Khan in 2017, who garnered over 500,000 followers and whose films are insanely successful in China.