As pro-democracy demonstrators continue to clash with police in Hong Kong, Apple has found itself caught up in the sights of China’s government due to an app being used to track police activity against protesters. The Chinese state-run People’s Daily news outlet on Wednesday called Apple an “accomplice” of the demonstrators because it has allowed…
As pro-democracy demonstrators continue to clash with police in Hong Kong, Apple has found itself caught up in the sights of China’s government due to an app being used to track police activity against protesters.
The Chinese state-run People’s Daily news outlet on Wednesday called Apple an “accomplice” of the demonstrators because it has allowed an app called HKmap.live to be available on its App Store. The app has been used by protesters to crowdsource and constantly update information about the location of police so that those demonstrators can then avoid confrontations on Hong Kong’s streets. Apple originally rejected the app, but then changed its decision on Oct. 4 and allowed the app to go live on its App Store.
According to the People’s Daily report, parts of which were translated by the British publication The Guardian, Apple “blatantly protects and endorses the rioters” by allowing the HKmap.live app to remain available on its App Store, and “allowing the ‘poisonous’ app to flourish is a betrayal of the Chinese people’s feelings.”
Apple also came under fire from the People’s Daily for allowing the song “Glory to Hong Kong” to remain on its Apple Music store. The song has been adopted as a rallying theme by many protesters and sung at pro-democracy demonstrations across Hong Kong.
Apple didn’t return a request for comment about the Hong Kong situation. From a business standpoint, the stakes for Apple in China remain high.
In July, Apple said China accounted for $9.2 billion of the company’s fiscal third-quarter sales of $53.8 billion. Apple also makes the majority of its products in China, and in August, U.S. President Donald Trump gave the company a break by delaying until Dec. 15 new tariffs of 10% on iPhones and other consumer electronics imported into the U.S. from China.
With so much of Apple’s business coming from, and related to China, the People’s Daily hinted that the company could see some financial backlash from what it called Apple’s “mixing of political, commercial and illegal activities. The People’s Daily said such actions would “draw more turbulence” for Apple.
The comments about Apple are another example of China becoming more vocal and reactive about the involvement of Americans in the Hong Kong protests.
Over the weekend, the Chinese Basketball Association said it was suspending cooperating with the NBA’s Houston Rockets due to Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeting out support for Hong Kong protesters. An NBA preseason game scheduled between the Brooklyn Nets and the Los Angeles Lakers was still set to tip off in Shanghai on Thursday, but there were concerns that the game could be cancelled.