China says Apple needs to “think about the consequences” after reinstating a Hong Kong protest app following a backlash.
Apple has found itself in an unwinnable position amid the Hong Kong protests against the Chinese government.
Earlier this week, Apple received backlash for banning HKMap Live – an app which crowdsources the locations of protests, police, tear gas, ambulances, water cannons, and more – from the App Store.
The developer of HKMap Live criticised Apple for the app’s removal. Kuma, the developer’s pseudonym for safety reasons, said the goal of the app is to improve safety for all of Hong Kong’s citizens and help them navigate the city with less danger.
Others joined the backlash against HKMap’s removal and Apple ended up reinstating the app. Beijing is obviously not happy with Apple’s decision.
China’s state media published an article today with the headline ‘Is Apple helping HK rioters engage in more violence?’ which sums up Beijing’s position. The article also claims a song advocating Hong Kong’s independence has been resurrected in Apple Music.
“People have reason to assume that Apple is mixing business with politics, and even illegal acts,” wrote Bo Lanping in the article for People’s Daily. “Apple has to think about the consequences of its unwise and reckless decision.”
China is a huge market for Apple. The People’s Daily article not-so-subtly reminds its readers that “only the prosperity of China and China’s Hong Kong will bring them a broader and more sustainable market.”
Cupertino already appears to have taken measures to appease Beijing. According to local publications such as Hiraku, users who have their devices set to Hong Kong or Macau have noticed the Taiwan flag has been removed from Apple’s emoji keyboard.
Apple is going to want to keep Beijing happy, but the company may put its reputation with consumers on the line to do so.
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