Tim Cook defends decision to remove 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

During the October 10 press conference, the foreign ministry spokesperson also said that foreign businesses are welcome to invest in China, "but the precondition is that they comply with Chinese laws and regulations and respect Chinese people's national feelings".

Protesters marching peacefully hit the rain-slickened streets of Hong Kong again in multiple locations on Saturday, defying police warnings that they were gathering illegally.

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"We Hongkongers will definitely look closely at whether Apple chooses to uphold its commitment to free expression and other basic human rights, or become an accomplice for Chinese censorship and oppression". Apple has also cultivated a loyal following in the country.

Apple's behaviour mirrors a number of other companies who ran into the reality of the difference between their stated ideals and their financial interest in China, with Google largely the unlikely exception who chose to leave the Chinese market instead of bending their principles.

China is a key market for Apple.

Cook addressed criticism the firm has received for removing the app stating: "These decisions are never easy, and it is harder still to discuss these topics during moments of furious public debate".

Protesters have also targeted China banks and shops with perceived links to China, as well as US coffee chain Starbucks SBUX.O , which had a store in Kowloon trashed on Saturday. That would translate into a loss of $6 billion to $12 billion in a single year, based on Apple's profits last year.

Apple blogger John Gruber of Daring Fireball, who has published a flurry of posts about the removal, ripped into the company's removal of the app and explanation for that action.

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There's "zero evidence to support CSTCB's (Cyber Security and Technology Crime Bureau) accusation that HKmap App has been used to target and ambush police, threaten public safety", the developer tweeted. The company cited that the app "has been used in ways that endanger law enforcement and residents in Hong Kong" as the reason for the removal. "This app violates our guidelines and local laws", Apple told The New York Times in a statement.

Thursday's move followed pressure from various channels, including the Communist Party newspaper People's Daily, which asked: "Is Apple guiding Hong Kong thugs?". It has escalated into a broader battle over Beijing's efforts to curb the Western-style civil liberties and autonomy promised to the former British colony when it returned to China in 1997. China's state TV canceled broadcasts of National Basketball Association games.

"Apple Sells Out Pro-Democracy Protesters in Hong Kong to Appease Chinese Government", tech blog Gizmodo wrote as Twitter users called to #boycottApple.

Sharing the skepticism were USA politicians like Sen.

President Trump, like Apple, only really cares about business. "Tim Cook or Beijing?"

The government said it would not bring in any other emergency measures. Earlier this week, we reported that Blizzard banned a Hong Kong Hearthstone player from its professional tournaments and stripped him of his prize money after he shouted a pro-Hong Kong slogan during a livestream.

Apple's rejection of the app is "clearly a political decision to suppress freedom and human right in HongKong", they added. The emoji could still be found if users searched for it.

"Apple assured me last week that their initial decision to ban this app was a mistake", tweeted Josh Hawley, a United States senator from Missouri. China has sought to tighten control over VPNs, which create encrypted links between computers and can be used to see blocked websites that the government has deemed subversive.

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