Oppo cancels Livestream launch of new 5G phone in India amid rising tensions

Indian and Chinese troops clashed violently this week in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley, leading to the deaths of several soldiers

Chinese smartphone brand Oppo cancelled the livestream launch of its flagship 5G smartphone in India on Wednesday, amid calls in the country for a boycott of Chinese products after a violent clash between Indian and Chinese troops along their disputed Himalayas border.

Oppo announced on Twitter earlier this week that it would host a livestream unveiling the Find X2, its first 5G smartphone in India on Wednesday via YouTube. However, this did not take place and Oppo uploaded a pre-recorded video on YouTube announcing the new smartphone instead.

“The Find X2 series was launched in India as scheduled on June 17,” said an Oppo spokesperson on Thursday. “It wasn’t cancelled – the launch took place via YouTube instead of using a live channel.”

Indian and Chinese troops clashed violently on Tuesday in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley, leading to the deaths of 20 Indian soldiers and an undisclosed number of Chinese soldiers. Following the border clash, hashtags like #HindiCheeniByeBye, #MadeInIndia and #BharatVsChina started trending on Twitter with Indian netizens calling for a boycott of Chinese products and support for domestic brands.

Oppo was the fifth-most popular smartphone brand in India and shipped 3.5 million devices in the first quarter of 2020, according to research firm Canalys. Xiaomi is the top player in India with almost a third of the market, with Chinese brands Vivo and Realme also in the top five – with Korea’s Samsung in third place. Xiaomi, Oppo and Vivo all have operations in India, with manufacturing plants, flagship stores and service centres.

“India has always needed Chinese tech companies and brands in its market for their affordable prices and to boost healthy competition,” said Lin Minwang, director of the Centre for South Asia Studies at Fudan University.

“I’m optimistic but Chinese tech companies should also be more cautious when investing in India due to rising anti-China sentiment and political uncertainty, especially those companies with big properties and production plants there,” said Lin.

Anti-China sentiment in India had already increased because of the coronavirus pandemic and rising border tensions have fanned the flames – with well-known Indian innovator Sonam Wangchuk and Bollywood stars Arshad Warsi and Milind Usha Soman calling for boycotts of Chinese products.

Earlier this month, Google removed from its app store an Indian app called Remove China Apps, which claimed to help users detect and uninstall all Chinese-developed apps from their Android phones. The app was the top-trending Android app in the country with 5 million installs by the time it was removed, just two weeks after launch.