Chinese state media warns Apple of ‘consequences’ for Hong Kong protest app

Chinese state-owned newspaper The People’s Daily has launched an attack against Apple, warning the technology giant about the possible consequences of allowing the app HKmap.live onto its app store, and other pieces of media that allegedly support independence for Hong Kong.

As reported by AFP, the op-ed in The People’s Daily takes aim at a couple of targets, including the NBA, but puts Apple firmly in its sights later in the piece. Accusing Apple of being an “accomplice to the rioters,” the article went on to warn that “Apple has to think about the consequences of its unwise and reckless decision.” In this case, in allowing an app that supplies information of police activity and protests around the Hong Kong area.

HKmap.live, showing live information about protests and police activity in Hong Kong. The app is used by protesters, and was recently removed then reinstated from the Apple App Store.

The People’s Daily takes a particular stance on this, claiming the app allows rioters to avoid police and commit violent acts in other areas. This is a description of the app rejected by the app’s developer, who took to Twitter to point out the app actually helps the police by highlighting “blue flag areas” — those areas where the police have temporarily deemed it illegal to assemble.

Read this if you don't know how "illegal assembly" works in #HK https://t.co/SSqJ3NzMpn

Just like Waze, people get notified of traffic cam ahead, so they can slow down. No one is breaking any law.

— HKmap.live 全港抗爭即時地圖 (@hkmaplive) October 2, 2019

It isn’t just HKmap.live that The People’s Daily has an issue with, mentioning the app as only being the tip of the iceberg. It also mentions an independence-supporting song being allowed onto the Apple Music store — most likely referencing the song Glory to Hong Kong, which has become something of an anthem for the protesters. According to the piece, the song was removed from the store before being allowed back on again.

This isn’t the first time we’ve written about HKmap.live. The controversial app made headlines earlier this week due to an alleged rejection for the Apple App Store. Following an outcry, the app was allowed onto the store, but there are some questions about whether Apple truly intended to censor the app. The app’s developer went as far as to say it was more likely a “bureaucratic f up than censorship”.

This is unlikely to be the last we hear of the technological sphere mixing with the ongoing pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. This week, professional Hearthstone player Chung Ng Wai was banned from the Hearthstone Grandmasters competition for using his post-match interview to support the protesters in Hong Kong. Prior to this, the Chinese government was accused of running disinformation campaigns through Facebook, Twitter, and even YouTube.