TikTok owner ByteDance is looking to re-enter the Indian market through a partnership with local company Hiranandani Group, nearly two years after being banned in one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, Indian media outlet Economic Times reported on Wednesday.

Why it matters: ByteDance’s effort to re-enter India, if successful, could pave the road for other Chinese companies, including major players such as Tencent and Alibaba, to access a market that’s undergoing rapid growth in mobile internet and one where they have already invested tens of billions.

  • ByteDance’s effort to gain access to India through a partnership is reminiscent of some of the solutions international companies have sought when faced with blocks in China. The Chinese government requires foreign companies engaged in “restricted” areas, such as chemicals and machinery like engines and cameras, to set up a joint venture with a local Chinese partner to run in the country.
  • Even if Chinese tech giants could make a successful comeback, they would still have to catch up with India’s quickly changing market, which has fostered its own alternatives in the absence of Chinese firms.

READ MORE: INSIGHTS | Does India need China tech?

Details: ByteDance is in discussion with Mumbai-based realty major Hiranandani Group in an attempt to re-enter India, the Indian media outlet Economic Times reported.

  • Joining forces with a local company is expected to help ByteDance avoid government scrutiny in India, the company’s second-largest market and a country where it had more than 2,000 employees before being banned in 2020.
  • Details of the partnership remain elusive since the talks are still at a very early stage. But ByteDance has informed Indian regulators about its intentions, the report said. A senior government official told Economic Times that there’s been no official approach yet, but that they will examine the requirements when the companies seek government approval.
  • Hiranandani Group runs data center operations. A partnership would allow ByteDance to store user data within the country, therefore making it compliant with local regulations.
  • ByteDance didn’t respond to TechNode’s inquiries on the matter when reached on Thursday morning.

Context: The Indian government banned nearly 200 Chinese apps from June to September 2020 as China and India engaged in a border conflict. Some of the most popular Chinese apps and services, including TikTok, WeChat, Shein, and Alipay, have remained on the blacklist. 

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Emma Lee

Emma Lee (Li Xin) was TechNode's e-commerce and new retail reporter until June 2022, when she moved to Sixth Tone to cover technology and consumption. Get in touch with her via lixin@sixthtone.com or Twitter.