Tech

China Condemns Apple Over App That Guides ‘Hong Kong Thugs’ By Tracking Police

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China on Wednesday condemned Apple for an app that allows users to track police activity in Hong Kong.

The People’s Daily, China’s government-run newspaper, said in a Tuesday blog post that the app called HKmap.live “facilitates illegal behavior” and questioned whether Apple was “guiding Hong Kong thugs,” the Financial Times reported.

It added that Apple had “betrayed the feelings of the Chinese people,” according to FT. (RELATED: Hong Kong Police Unload Live Rounds On Protesters, Shoot 18-Year-Old: Report)

“The developers of the map app had not hidden their malicious motive in providing ‘navigation’ for the rioters,” the newspaper continued. “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 developer of HKMap.live, who remains anonymous, responded to China’s condemnation of Apple in a Wednesday statement, affirming Hongkonger’s right to free speech.

“Protest is part of our freedom of speech and I don’t think the application is illegal in HK. It merely consolidates information that is already available in public domain, eg Telegram groups,” the developer said, according to FT.

The commentary from People’s Daily came a day after Apple reversed its decision to block the app and instead made it available for users to download on Oct. 5, the South China Morning Post reported.

China is Apple’s second-largest market next to the U.S., and the company has given leverage to China to make demands of Apple that are compliant with the country’s government like limiting internet freedom. Apple has also come under scrutiny for violating the human rights of its factory workers, as the Daily Caller News Foundation previously reported.

“I’ve never found being on the sideline a successful place to be,” Apple CEO Tim Cook told employees at a meeting in 2016. “The way that you influence these issues is to be in the arena. So whether it’s in this country, or the European Union, or in China or South America, we engage.”

“And we engage when we agree, and we engage when we disagree. I think it’s very important to do that because you don’t change things by just yelling. You change things by showing everyone why your way is the best.”

Protests in Hong Kong, which were sparked by a since-withdrawn extradition bill that would have sent Hong Kong residents convicted of crimes to mainland China for trial, have been ongoing since June.

The bill’s withdrawal was one of five demands made by Hongkongers who have kept the protests going. The other four include Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s resignation, an inquiry into police brutality, the release of those who have been arrested and more democratic freedoms, according to CNN.

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