Banned Chinese Apps: All You Need to Know

Banned Chinese Apps

With many Chinese apps banned in app stores in countries such as India, a lot of mobile phone users are looking for answers to questions like: Why are Chinese apps banned? Which Chinese apps are banned? Is it legal to use banned Chinese apps? How to download banned Chinese apps? How to use banned Chinese apps? In this article, we will discuss these topics.

Which Countries Have Banned Chinese Apps?

The situation with banning Chinese apps is not the same in all countries. In most countries, there is no ban on Chinese mobile apps and they can be installed and used without any problem. However, in some countries, the situation is quite different.

  • In India, as the border tensions between China and India escalated in 2020, the Indian government decided to ban more than 200 Chinese mobile apps.
  • In the U.S., the Trump administration also tried to ban popular Chinese apps such as Tiktok and WeChat in 2020. However, both bans are still pending because these attempts were blocked by U.S. judges.
  • Pakistan decided to ban the Chinese app TikTok in Oct 2020.

Why Are Chinese Apps Banned?

In most cases, Chinese apps were banned because the government believed Chinese mobile apps could post a national security threat.

For example, in India, after banning popular Chinese apps such as PUBG, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology explained that “this decision is a targeted move to ensure safety, security and sovereignty of Indian cyberspace”. An Indian government official explained that “these apps give information about every individual — where they are travelling, and other minute data — which China can easily use against India.”

In the U.S., the Trump administration has alleged that Chinese technology companies behind popular Chinese apps such as WeChat and TikTok could collect data of American users and send it to China.

Pakistan banned TikTok because this Chinese app provides access to “immoral/indecent content”.

Which Chinese Apps Are Banned?

Banned Chinese Apps

In the U.S., the Trump administration issued orders to ban two popular Chinese apps: TikTok and WeChat. However, later on these attempts were blocked by U.S. judges. Therefore, so far the U.S. ban on Chinese apps TikTok and WeChat has not become effective yet.

In India, more than 200 Chinese apps are banned, including popular apps such as TikTok, WeChat, PUBG, Alipay, Baidu, Weibo, QQ Mail, QQ Music, ES File Explorer, Cam Scanner, Helo, Youku, Mobile Taobao, Netease News, VPN for TikTok and many more.

Is It Legal to Use Banned Chinese Apps?

Given that some Chinese apps are banned in your country, you might wonder whether it is legal to use banned Chinese apps.

As a matter of fact, the most common way in which Chinese apps are banned is to make it illegal to distribute those apps. For example, if you are a mobile phone maker, you are no longer allowed to sell new phones which banned Chinese apps preinstalled. If you run an online mobile phone app store, you can no longer include those banned Chinese apps in your store either.

However, for mobile phone end users, it’s a different story. Although you will no longer be able to find the banned Chinese app on your phone’s app store, if you already have it on your phone or if you install it without using the app store (for example, using methods that we will discuss later), generally speaking, it’s NOT illegal for you to use the banned Chinese app.

How to Download Banned Chinese Apps?

Banned Chinese Apps

As mentioned earlier, banned Chinese apps won’t be available on your mobile phone’s app store (Android phone’s Google Play Store and iPhone’s App Store) any more. As a result, you won’t be able to download them directly from your app store. Even if you have already installed them on your phone before the ban, you won’t be able to update them through your phone’s app store in the future.

However, if you really want to download banned Chinese apps, you can try one of the following methods:

Download Banned Chinese Apps from the App Store of Another Country

You might already know that both Google’s Play Store and Apple’s App Store have different versions for different countries. If the Chinese app you are interested is banned in your country, although it won’t be able for download from your country’s mobile app store, it might be still available at the app store of other countries.

Both Google’s Play Store and Apple’s App Store allow users to change country for their account. Although the process of changing country is not that easy (for example, you might need to provide payment methods for the new country), if you can change it, you will be able to see the banned Chinese app again on your app store. After successfully downloading it and installing it, you can switch your app store account back to your original country.

Download Banned Chinese Apps from Alternative App Stores

Although Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store are the most popular places to download mobile apps, there are some alternative app stores available. For example, there are a number of Chinese app stores for Android devices and you can download banned Chinese apps from there. For iOS users, it might be more difficult to use alternative app stores because you might need to jailbreak your iPhone or iPad before you can use them.

(For Android Devices Only) Install Banned Chinese Apps by Using .APK Files

If you are an Android phone user, you can install new apps by using a special kind of files with the “.apk” extension. For banned Chinese apps, you can install them using their .apk files. For example, you can download and install the Chinese version of PUBG Mobile using its .apk file. You can search the .apk file for the banned Chinese apps online, but please make sure the source is reliable before using their .apk files.

Also, before installing Android apps using .apk files, you need to change your Android phone’s security setting by allowing installing apps from unknown sources.

How to Use Banned Chinese Apps?

If you live in a country where your favorite Chinese app is banned, you might still be able to use it.

For some apps, it’d be a little bit difficult to do so. For example, if you live in India and you want to use TikTok after the ban, before doing anything else, you might need to factory reset your phone in order to get a new (and not already banned) hardware ID for you mobile device.

The main trick of using banned Chinese apps is to use a VPN. VPN is a type of tool people have been using to increase online security and defeat censorship (for example, you can use a VPN in China to unblocked banned websites), but it can also allow users to hide their real locations. For example, with a VPN turned on, when you use a banned Chinese app, you will be able to pretend to be using it from another country (where it’s not banned).

What’s the Best VPN for Using Banned Chinese Apps?

When choosing a VPN for banned Chinese apps, you need to make sure the VPN allows you to connect to a VPN server located in a country where the app is not banned. Also, you need to make sure the VPN offers fast and reliable speed and comes with a good price.

Below are some best VPNs for using banned Chinese Apps:


In this article we discussed some common topics about banned Chinese apps. If you live in a country where Chinese apps are banned, you can use the methods mentioned above to use them. However, please always make sure that online security is your first consideration!

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