International tech giant Apple is being dragged by Chinese state media and reportedly received an order to cease allowing consumers to download HKMap Live, a crowdsourced, protest-centered map app designed to track police presence in Hong Kong.
“Apple, like other companies, should be able to distinguish between right and wrong and understand that its market would only be more promising and substantial if China and Hong Kong are doing well,” state outlet The People’s Daily said, blasting the company in an article titled “Is Apple helping HK rioters engage in more violence?”
While Apple initially blocked the app from its store due to fears of encouraging illegal activity, HKMap’s Twitter page announced last week that the tech giant had approved their follow-up request and officially listed the the app on October 5.
Since then, more than 100 million users of Apple products in China have experienced technical issues with iTunes and the App Store, according to Hong Kong-based outlet Asia Times. These glitches also come amid reports that Beijing issued a formal request to the Apple office in China, calling for the removal of the so-called illegal app.
Furthermore, the Communist Party’s mouthpiece informed Apple that the “map app is just the tip of the iceberg” and revealed that Beijing was also angered by a song in the Apple Music Store which advocated for Hong Kong’s independence.
“Nobody wants to drag Apple into the lingering unrest in Hong Kong. But people have reason to assume that Apple is mixing business with politics, and even illegal acts,” the newspaper asserted.
Despite this falling out, Apple has been cooperating on other fronts with Beijing. Sputnik reported on Tuesday that the tech company’s iOS 13.1.1 update and later versions removed the Taiwan flag emoji from Hong Kong and Macau-based users’ keyboards.
The seemingly sly move by Apple amid protests in Hong Kong came off to some as if the company was aligning itself with Beijing. According to state media, however, the choice to feature “toxic apps” like HKMap forced the country’s hand to show Apple that there are “consequences of its unwise and reckless decision.”