20:05 GMT19 April 2021
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    India banned over 200 Chinese apps from operating in the country last year, citing national security concerns. TikTok also made it to India's blacklist, losing over 600 million users. Since then, TikTok's Chinese parent company ByteDance has been trying to sell its India business without any luck, so far.

    Indian authorities have blocked at least two bank accounts of ByteDance for alleged tax evasion, Reuters reported, citing two sources familiar with the matter.

    Without divulging details, a ByteDance spokesperson confirmed the news to Sputnik while emphasising that the company "does not agree" with the decision of Indian authorities.

    “At ByteDance, we are committed to abiding by local laws and regulations. While we disagree with the decision of the tax authority in this matter, we will extend our full cooperation to the government", the spokesperson said in a statement.

    ByteDance also reportedly approached the Bombay High Court saying that by blocking its bank accounts, India is abusing the legal process that will hinder its payments of taxes and salaries to its employees in India.

    The hearing date for ByteDance's legal filing in the Bombay High Court is expected to be announced soon.

    India started the process of blocking ByteDance's Citibank and HSBC India accounts in mid-March while investigating an alleged evasion of some online advertising taxes in dealings between the TikTok parent's India and Singapore units, Reuters added.

    At present, no official statement from the Indian authorities, TikTok, ByteDance, Citibank, and HSBC India has been issued. 

    The news comes two months after ByteDance began laying off its TikTok office staff in India. The company employed over 2,000 Indians, a number that now reportedly stands at around 1,300.

    India digitally struck China by blocking over 200 apps after border tensions between the neighbouring nations escalated at the Ladakh-located Line of Actual Control (LAC). In April 2020, troops from both countries accused each other of violating the LAC. Two months later, Indian and Chinese soldiers engaged in a deadly altercation, with multiple causalties on both sides.

    Even after the India-China border standoff ended earlier this year following several rounds of diplomatic talks, it remains unclear if TikTok and other Chinese apps exempted from operating in India, will ever be able to re-establish their presence in India.

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