Apple Pulls Hong Kong App Amid Chinese Regime’s Pressure

In flip-flop, Apple bans app used by Hong Kong protestors

In flip-flop, Apple bans app used by Hong Kong protestors

"This case is no different", Cook wrote.

Despite a series of Tweets being posted from HKmap.live that categorically denies the claims, a leaked memo from Tim Cook to Apple employees has also been making the rounds.

Apple's removal of the app highlights growing tensions between U.S. businesses and the Chinese government, which has been battling ongoing protests in Hong Kong since March 2019.

Apple's decision came soon after Chinese state media criticized it for allowing HKmap to be downloaded.

Apple phone user Canny Ng said the decision was "not acceptable". "We once believed the App rejection is simply a bureaucratic f up (fuck up), but now it is clearly a political decision to suppress freedom and human right in #HongKong", they tweeted.

The app is still available on the Google Play Store, and is viewable through its website.

The dynamic, crowd-sourced app HKmap.live has become popular for helping people to navigate through the tear gas-filled streets in Hong Kong, a former British colony where pro-democracy protests have erupted since June against Beijing's creeping interference.

What began as opposition to a now-withdrawn extradition bill has evolved into a pro-democracy movement fanned by fears that China is stifling Hong Kong's freedoms guaranteed under a "one country, two systems" formula introduced with the 1997 handover.

In a statement on Twitter on Thursday, the app's developer said there was zero evidence that it had been used to target police or threaten public safety.

Apple did not comment beyond its statement.

Apple Inc AAPL.O removed an app this week that helped protesters track police movements, saying it was used to target officers.

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Apple has been bending over backwards to appease the Chinese government over the past two years, pulling the Taiwan flag emoji from users in mainland China and banning hundreds of VPNs, among other forms of censorship. "For a company that usually measures umpteen times before cutting anything, it's both sad and startling", wrote John Gruber, one of the best-known Apple commentators, on his blog Daring Fireball.

The iPhone maker said it's deleting HKmap.live - just days after approving it for the App Store - because it found the app endangered law enforcement and residents.

We built the App Store to be a safe and trusted place for every user.

Most of the content on the app is generated by its users, HKmap said, adding that moderators delete anything that tries to "solicit, promote, or encourage criminal activity".

Hong Kong's metro has borne the brunt of protests, with stations torched and trashed, and only returned to normal operations on Friday after being completely shut down. Back in 2017 Cook agreed to remove VPN apps from the Chinese edition of the App Store after the government complained they were being used to circumvent its "great firewall" network.

The existence of such an app shows that "most of the Hong Kong people, maybe they're really afraid of the police nowadays", she said.

The People's Daily newspaper, in its commentary on Tuesday, said Apple did not have a sense of right and wrong, and ignored the truth.

An anti-government protester wears a mask during a demonstration at New Town Plaza shopping mall in Hong Kong, China, October 12, 2019. A web version was also still viewable on iPhones.

Beijing has taken an increasingly hard line on the Hong Kong protests, and on Wednesday slammed them as "violent and illegal".

Apple's backdown comes as USA businesses find themselves under pressure from China's government over actions or statements perceived as contrary to the narrative of the ruling Communist Party.

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