Tim Cook defends Apple's removal of Hong Kong mapping 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

Apple CEO Tim Cook. Starbucks outlets have been targeted by pro-democracy demonstrators because the Seattle-based chain's local franchisee, Maxim's, is seen as backing the Chinese government's stance against the protests. On Tuesday the People's Daily, a mouthpiece for the Chinese Communist party, accused Apple of abetting "rioters" when it approved the crowdsourced mapping app for download.

"National and worldwide debates will outlive us all, and, while important they do not govern the facts", said Cook in defense of Apple's decision. "We once believed the App rejection is simply a bureaucratic f up (fuck up), but now it is clearly a political decision to suppress freedom and human right in #HongKong", they tweeted.

Apple's decision to bar the HKmap.live app, which crowdsources the locations of both police and protesters, from its app store plunges the company into the increasingly fraught political tension between China and the protesters that has also ensnared other USA and Hong Kong businesses.

Apple first rejected the app in early October, arguing that it "allowed users to evade law enforcement".

What began as opposition to a now-withdrawn extradition bill has evolved into a pro-democracy movement fanned by fears that China is stifling Hong Kong's freedoms guaranteed under a "one country, two systems" formula introduced with the 1997 handover.

The Apple CEO said he received "credible information" from the Hong Kong Cybersecurity and Technology Crime Bureau and users in Hong Kong indicating that the app was being used in such a way.

The company also said the Quartz app was taken down because it didn't comply with Chinese law.

Apple received "credible information" that "the app was being used maliciously to target individual officers for violence and to victimize individuals and property where no police are present", he wrote.

"She seems to misunderstand how free speech operates, and also how freedom of the press operates", said Mr Cruz, a Republican senator from Texas and a vocal critic of China who was stopping in Hong Kong for two days as part of a regional tour. The company didn't respond to requests for comment yesterday.

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"HKmap.live helps HK residents, journalists, tourists etc identify "danger zones" and avoid being hurt by tear gas, rubber bullets, baton, bean-bag rounds and water cannon that the Hong Kong police claims to be "minimum force", and get real-time updates of public transport, who rely on the app to avoid being harassed and beaten up by police for no reason".

"The majority of user review [s] in the App Store ... suggest HKmap IMPROVED public safety, not the opposite", they said.

"We disagree [with Apple's] and [the Hong Kong Police Force]'s claim that HKmap App endanger [s] law enforcement and residents in Hong Kong", the developer tweeted. Thursday's removal of the app drew immediate reprimands from Washington.

The 2016 United States presidential candidate was dressed head to toe in black, in what he called a sign of solidarity with Hong Kong protesters - men and women, boys and girls, he said - who have adopted that as their de facto uniform.

"President Xi is terrified of millions of people in Hong Kong but even more than that millions of people in China yearning to live free".

Activision Blizzard banned an e-sports player known as Blitzchung from its Hearthstone card game and took away his winnings after he shouted his support for the Hong Kong protests in a post-match interview on its streaming service. A web version was also still viewable on iPhones.

Pro-establishment and democratic lawmakers shouted at each other before the start of the session, heightening tensions that have spiraled following 4 months of often violent pro-democracy protests in the Asian financial hub.

"And the last thing they want to do is something that is going to upset the apple cart".

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