PUBG could be unbanned in India as Fortnite rival ends partnership with Chinese owner

The actions of the Indian government have been referenced in executive orders issued by President Trump

Adam Smith
Tuesday 08 September 2020 17:24 BST
Chinese Foreign Ministry comments on US plans to ban TikTok and WeChat

PUBG (PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds) has announced that the Chinese technology giant Tencent will no longer be its publishing partner in India.

The news comes as India banned PUBG Mobile and 117 other mostly Chinese-owned apps.

The Indian government had banned 59 other apps previously, including TikTok.

“PUBG Corporation fully understands and respects the measures taken by the government as the privacy and security of player data is a top priority for the company”, it said in a statement.

The company said that it would no longer authorise the mobile franchise to Tencent Games. Instead, it would be responsible for all publishing within the country.

It also said it hoped to “work hand-in-hand with the Indian government to find a solution that will allow gamers to once again drop into the battlegrounds while being fully compliant with Indian laws and regulations.”

It is currently unknown whether the Indian government would rescind the ban on PUBG following the move. 

The Independent has reached out to the Indian government and PUBG Corporation for clarification. 

When banning Chinese applications, the Indian government claimed that it had received “several reports about misuse of some mobile apps available on Android and iOS platforms for stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data in an unauthorised manner to servers which have locations outside of India”.

It did not mention specific complaints about apps, or any software by name.

Nevertheless, the Indian government’s reaction to Chinese companies has made waves on the world stage.

President Donald Trump, when enacting his executive order that would ban TikTok in the US, specifically cited the actions of the Indian government, repeating assertions about data theft and transmission made by the Indian government.

Mr Trump also issued a similar executive order against Tencent-owned WeChat, which is banned in India.

As such, many see the events in India as a precursor for the decisions that will be taken by the Trump administration.

It is unclear whether PUBG and Tencent’s relationship has changed, or will change, in other markets, but could present a way out for other companies such as TikTok.

Triller, Walmart and Microsoft have put forward bids to buy the viral video app from its parent company Bytedance before it is banned in the United States.

It is unclear whether these companies would only purchase TikTok’s operations in the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, or would take responsibility for other markets.

The Chinese government is “seriously concerned and firmly oppose the Indian government to prohibit the mobile apps with Chinese background with the excuse of ‘national security”, it said in a post published on the embassy’s website.

“We urge the Indian government to rectify the discriminatory practices violating WTO rules, and provide an open, fair and impartial business environment for all market players from various countries including China,” India Counselor Ji Rong added.

As well as concerns about national security – which TikTok has repeatedly denied - tensions between India and China have continued over the summer, which have led to deadly skirmishes over a contested border.

Similarly, Mr Trump has been said to be “igniting a Cold War with China” with regards to both the pandemic and the economy.

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