Apple approved an app that lets users track the location of police in Hong Kong — a move that China’s state-run newspaper criticized, saying it lets pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong “go on with violent acts.”
“Nobody wants to drag Apple into the lingering unrest in Hong Kong,” according to the English-language version of an article published Wednesday by the People’s Daily, which dragged Apple into the geopolitical fray. The article continued, “But people have reason to assume that Apple is mixing business with politics, and even illegal acts. Apple has to think about the consequences of its unwise and reckless decision.”
The app, called HKmap.live (pictured, above), lets users see the location of police and anti-government protesters as well as areas where violent incidents have occurred. HKmap.live uses crowdsourced data, similar to the Waze traffic app. Apple OK’d the app Oct. 4 after the tech giant had previously rejected it, according to a report in the South China Morning Post, citing the app’s developer (who was not named).
Apple has not responded to a request for comment.
According to the People’s Daily article, “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.”
The People’s Daily article also criticized Apple for allowing a song in Hong Kong’s Apple Music Store advocating “Hong Kong independence.” The article claimed Apple had previously removed the song but that it has since been restored.
Apple is the latest U.S. company to become embroiled in Chinese politics, specifically related to China’s crackdown on protesters in Hong Kong, along with the NBA and Comedy Central’s “South Park.”
China’s state media and Tencent suspended NBA broadcasts after Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey last week tweeted an image supporting the Hong Kong protesters. Morey later deleted and apologized for the tweet, which the NBA called “regrettable.” The Chinese government blocked a recent episode of “South Park” critical of the country’s policies and scrubbed references to it from social media. That prompted creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone to issue a statement saying, sarcastically, “Like the NBA, we welcome the Chinese censors into our homes and into our hearts. We too love money more than freedom and democracy.”