China has criticized tech giant Apple for allowing an app that tracks Hong Kong police and protests on the iPhone app store. The Chinese Communist Party newspaper accused Apple of “guiding Hong Kong thugs” by making the app available. Apple originally pulled the app, but returned it after massive backlash against bowing to the demands of communist China.
The New York Post reports that tech giant Apple has come under criticism from China over an app that allows users to track the location of Hong Kong protests and police activity. The app, which Breitbart News reported recently was removed from the app store, was returned after a backlash from Apple customers and supporters of free speech, to the displeasure of the communist Chinese government.
When the HKmap Live app was removed, Apple told the developers that: “Your app contains content – or facilitates, enables, and encourages an activity – that is not legal … specifically, the app allowed users to evade law enforcement.”
The company behind the Hong Kong app argued that other apps have taken exception to these rules as they simply provide location data, if these rules were to be applied universally location-based apps such as Waze would also be banned. Apple’s argument was that the app is used solely to track police activity and protest movements. Messages on the app read: “After the tear gas was applied, the police officer immediately returned to the police station.” Another read: “Four flashing lights parked at the police station door.” Following backlash against the Silicon Valley giant, the decision was reversed several days later.
Now the Chinese Communist Party’s main newspaper has criticized Apple with the People’s Daily stating that the was designed by an outside supplier and available on Apple’s online store and that it “facilitates illegal behavior.” The People’s Daily questioned if Apple was “guiding Hong Kong thugs.”
The Chinese Communist Party has ramped up efforts to crack down on protests in Hong Kong recently, pressuring Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways and the National Basketball Association in the United States to side against protesters. Recently, video game developer Blizzard recently banned Hearthstone eSports champion Ng Wai “blitzchung” Chung, a native of Hong Kong, for making comments in favor of the pro-democracy protests in the city.
Apple has a history of bowing to censorship demands from the communist Chinese government. In 2017, the company removed anti-censorship and VPN privacy apps from the Chinese app store at the government’s request.