As if sandbags were piling up, Apple was well prepared to respond to its decision to remove an app used by demonstrators in Hong Kong.
Politicians – and some famous Apple supporters – are totally unconvinced.
"Apple's decision to comply with the demands of Communist China is unacceptable," tweeted Rick Scott, a Republican Senator for Florida. The people of Hong Kong are wrong. No ifs and buts. "
Late Wednesday, the company began informing journalists about the move and argued that HKmap.live" is used in a way that jeopardizes law enforcement and local residents. "
] On Thursday morning, Apple CEO Tim Cook sent an e-mail to the inboxes of his employees.
"I have great respect for your day-to-day work and I want to share how we made that decision." In recent days, we have received credible information from the Hong Kong Cyber Security and Technology Crime Bureau and users in Hong Kong maliciously used to attack individual officials. " Violence and victims of persons and property where no police are present. This use violates the law of Hong Kong.
"Similarly, widespread misuse clearly violates our App Store policies unless there is personal injury."
Long-time Apple commentator John Gruber wrote about Mr. Cook's email: "I can not remember an Apple memo or explanation that disintegrates so quickly."
"Innocent bystanders "
Apple has not yet provided any additional information on these alleged incidents." Charles Mok, a Hong Kong legislator representing the IT industry in the Territory, wrote a letter to Mr. Cook on Twitter about law enforcement moves
"There are numerous cases of innocent bystanders in the neighborhood being injured by the excessive force of the Kong Kong Police in mass distribution operations."
"The user-generated information shared with HKmap.live helps citizens Avoiding areas where pedestrians who are not involved in criminal activities may be exposed to the police brutality observed by many human rights organizations such as Amnesty International.
Mok further argued that users are active on major social networks, such as Facebook, or Twitter, who also share information about police activities ̵
"We Hong Kong citizens will definitely be scrutinizing whether Apple chooses to uphold its commitment to free speech and other basic human rights, or become such an accomplice to Chinese censorship and oppression. "
Apple did not respond to the letter.
Censored South Park
Apple's Choice Is Against the Background of Large American Enterprises Bending to Beijing's Political Pressure.
Last week, the NBA fought over a tweet from a team leader who supported the protests, while video games that released Activision Blizzard banned its e-sports competitor Ng Wai "blitz" Chung for his support for the Movement showed.
And Google removed a RPG called "Revolution of Our Times" from its App Store after violating its "sensitive event" policy (the player plays the role of a demonstrator in Hong Kong). According to the Wall Street Journal, the Hong Kong authorities had contacted Google with concerns about this app – although the company announced it would take action before any communication took place, managing director of Epic Games, the company behind the online multiplayer game Fortnite stands.
"Epic supports everyone's right to speak freely," he wrote on Twitter in response to the question of whether Hong's gamer supporting Kong protesters. Chinese technology giant Tencent owns 40% of the company.
"Chinese Fortnite players can criticize the US as much as anyone else, or criticize Epic," Sweeney said.
In a sequel to Comedy Central's South Park earlier this month, Chinese censorship erased "virtually every clip, every episode, and online discussion of the show from Chinese streaming services, social media, and even fan sites" of Hollywood Reporter.
As a result, four of the series' main characters worked on a script that is constantly being changed to be distributed in China.
"You must lower your ideals of freedom if you want to suck on the warm teat of China."
In the case of Apple, this translates into revenue that is at more than $ 40 billion this year – nearly a fifth of the company's total revenue worldwide. Apple's trust in Chinese manufacturing means that the relationship goes far beyond local distribution. The company has 10,000 direct employees in the company; The economy surrounding Apple's presence in China is responsible for around 5 million jobs.
What happens next depends on China's belief that its tough stance works – and there are signs that officials are becoming suspicious. Beijing is worried that its actions will pay more attention to the protests and harm the country's image on the global stage, and make relations with the US even more exciting as trade talks resume in Washington, according to the New York Times.
The disputes have also raised concerns that China has little concern when it comes to exposing demands from both companies based in the communist state and companies that only want to do business there.
"What would Huawei do if you were the dominant 5G provider for a country, and the leaders of that country said the wrong thing? " speculated Elliott Zaagman who covered the Chinese business and Chinese investments.
Follow Dave Lee on Twitter @DaveLeeBBC
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