Apple CEO defends decision to remove Hong Kong protesters app

A policeman restraining a demonstrator at Harbour City in Hong Kong yesterday. Protests planned for last night included some in support of Taiwan on its National Day and rallies against perceived police brutality. ST

A policeman restraining a demonstrator at Harbour City in Hong Kong yesterday. Protests planned for last night included some in support of Taiwan on its National Day and rallies against perceived police brutality. ST

Today I wrote to Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, to tell him his company's decision to remove HKmap live app from Appstore will cause problems for normal Hong Kong's citizens trying to avoid police presence while they are under constant fear ofpolice brutality.

Cook's note comes a day after Apple released a statement about HKmap.live, which stated with somewhat less detail that people were using the app to target police.

The app's developer insists that HKmap.live is created to help everyone stay safe and isn't specifically designed for protestors. NKmap lets users track police activity and pinpoints pro-democracy protests against China's moves to restrict freedom in Hong Kong.

Hundreds of mask-wearing pro-democracy protesters yesterday marched through Hong Kong's central business district at lunchtime, occupying a main thoroughfare and disrupting traffic as the territory braced for another weekend of turmoil.

As the protests in Hong Kong rage on, USA businesses increasingly walk a tightrope with the Chinese market on one side and public opinion elsewhere on the other. When taken together, China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan are collectively Apple's second largest market after the US, according to Bloomberg News, providing a clear financial incentive for the technology company to do the bidding of Beijing.

China is a vital market for Apple, representing more than 20% of its iPhone demand and 90% of manufacturing, according to Wedbush analyst Dan Ives.

Thursday's move followed pressure from various channels, including the Communist Party newspaper People's Daily, which asked: "Is Apple guiding Hong Kong thugs?".

"We disagree [with] Apple and Hong Kong police force's claim that HKmap App endangers law enforcement and residents in Hong Kong", the app said on Twitter.

The Hong Kong Jockey Club said it would close eight off-course betting branches and shut another 20 early on Saturday to protect its employees.

Taken together, both these decisions by Apple add fuel to an already widespread perception among USA politicians that Apple won't have the spine to stand-up to China.

People queue at Yau Ma Tei metro station, after the nearby Mong Kok was closed due to vandalism during protests, in Hong Kong, China October 9, 2019.

In recent days, the National Basketball Association found itself the target of a furious nationalist backlash from Beijing after Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey tweeted in support of the Hong Kong protesters.

Cook addressed criticism the firm has received for removing the app stating: "These decisions are never easy, and it is harder still to discuss these topics during moments of furious public debate".

There is "overwhelming bipartisan support" in the US Congress for the people of Hong Kong, and Mr Cruz said he was pressing for the Senate to take up and pass the Hong Kong Human Rights Act quickly.

"This use put aside the app in violation of Hong Kong law".

Separately, Apple removed the Quartz news app from its App Store in China because authorities said it violated local laws.

"It is now not any secret that expertise might per chance presumably presumably also furthermore be outdated-fashioned for correct or for ill".

"You have likely seen the news that we made the decision to remove an app from the App Store entitled HKmap.live", wrote Cook in the beginning. On its own, this information is benign.

In recent weeks, a number of high-profile American companies have engaged in censorship at the behest of the Chinese government.