Image via South China Morning Post

What you need to know

  • Chinese state media has denounced Apple's decision to allow HKmap.live to be published on the App Store.
  • The piece comes from People's Daily, a Chinese Communist party "mouthpiece".
  • Article described Apple's conduct as "unwise", "imprudent" and "a betrayal of Chinese people's feelings".

Chinese state media has denounced Apple's decision to allow a Hong Kong map app on its app store, describing the move as "unwise", "imprudent" and "a betrayal of the Chinese people's feelings."

As reported by The Guardian

The headline of the People's Daily commentary carried by its official microblog on Wednesday said: "Protecting rioters – Has Apple thought clearly about this?"

It went on to say: "Allowing the 'poisonous' app to flourish is a betrayal of the Chinese people's feelings."

The HKmap.live is reportedly the most downloaded app under the travel category in the iOS App Store for Hong Kong.

Without specifically naming the app, the People's Daily commentary said it allowed "Hong Kong rioters to openly commit crime while openly escaping arrests". It said Apple's approval of the app made it an "accomplice" in the protests because it "blatantly protects and endorses the rioters". It questioned what the company's intentions were.

The piece is also purported to have criticised Apple over the fact that "Glory to Hong Kong", something of an unofficial anthem of the protests in Hong Kong, was available to download/stream on Apple Music.

As the report notes:

In what appears to be a threat to its access to the vast market in China, the commentary said Apple's "mixing of political, commercial and illegal activities" is "unwise" and "imprudent" and would only "draw more turbulence" for the company.

As previously reported, Apple initially rejected the app over concerns it would allow users to evade law enforcement, before changing its mind and allowing the app to be published.

On the English version of the People's Daily website is a slightly different variation of the post titled 'Is Apple helping HK rioters engage in more violence?' which states:

Apple recently allowed a map app to be available on its App Store. This mobile app claims to provide transportation information for the convenience of the public, but is actually used to identify the whereabouts of the police, allowing the rioters in Hong Kong to go on violent acts. The developers of the map app had ill intentions by providing a "navigation service" for the rioters. Apple's approval for the app obviously helps rioters. What was its true intention?

Hong Kong is experiencing severe times and its people are tired of the unrest. In the past few days, the rioters have become more audacious and have conducted violent acts more frequently. Apple chose to approve the app in the App Store in Hong Kong at this point. Does this mean Apple intended to be an accomplice to the rioters? The map app is just the tip of the iceberg. In the Apple Music Store in Hong Kong, there was also a song advocating "Hong Kong independence." Such a song was once removed from the music store and has resurrected.

The piece goes on to condemn Apple for abandoning its "social responsibilites" and allowing the violence in Hong Kong to escalate. It concludes by stating:

Foreign companies probably don't understand the sentiments and way of thinking of Chinese people. Our ancestors had been bullied. But today we are united more than ever. On issues involving principles, we have zero tolerance for wrongdoings. Providing a gateway for "toxic apps" is hurting the feelings of the Chinese people, twisting the facts of Hong Kong affairs, and against the views and principles of the Chinese people. Apple and other corporations should be able to discern right from wrong. They also need to know that only the prosperity of China and China's Hong Kong will bring them a broader and more sustainable market.

The news come in wake of a similar state condemnation of the NBA after Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey took to Twitter in support of Hong Kong. That article is simply titled "You cannot make money from China while insulting the country."

The news of the People's Daily article is just the latest episode in what is turning out to be a rather troublesome saga for Apple. The HKmap.live app uses crowdsourcing to track the location of police vehicles, armed officers and incidents in the city of Hong Kong. The app is currently the most downloaded app in the travel category of the HK App Store. Interstingly enough, Chinese media made no mention of Android or Google, despite the fact that the app is also available to download via the Google Play Store and has been downloaded 10,000 times.