UPDATE: 22:30 PM: Apple later on Wednesday removed an app that protesters in Hong Kong have used to track police movements from its app store with the argument that it violated rules because it was used to ambush police.
PREVIOUS 930 AM: Apple is the latest U.S. company to enter China’s cross-hairs, making an app available in its App Store that is seen as aiding anti-government protesters in Hong Kong.
People’s Daily Online, the state-run newspaper of the Communist Party, blasted Apple for providing access to the app, HKmap.live, in its App Store. The app “claims to provide transportation information for the convenience of the public,” the paper said — but instead, it provides the location of local police in an effort to assist protesters.
“Business is business, and politics is politics. Nobody wants to drag Apple into the lingering unrest in Hong Kong. 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 newspaper added.
Protests have roiled Hong Kong since the springtime, and in recent days the NBA and Viacom have both been ensnared in tensions over the protests. Daryl Morey, general manager of the NBA’s Houston Rockets, tweeted his support of the protesters, resulting in a massive backlash in the lucrative Chinese market and most entitles cutting ties with the league. Comedy Central’s South Park has also been yanked from the Internet and social media platforms in China after the animated show took direct aim at China in its latest episode. Co-creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone offered an unapologetic “apology” in response.
The Apple dustup came as Wall Street took an optimistic stance on trade talks scheduled Thursday between the U.S. and China. Apple stock has gained 1% on Wednesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq both squarely in positive territory.