Apple became the latest American corporate giant to bow to Chinese pressure, pulling an app used by pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong, who often wield American-flag imagery.
In a statement Wednesday evening, Apple said it was pulling http://HKmap.live, which had let Hong Kong protesters track police movements, from its App Store because it was endangering public safety and was contrary to Chinese law.
“The app displays police locations … has been used to target and ambush police, threaten public safety, and criminals have used it to victimize residents in areas where they know there is no law enforcement. This app violates our guidelines and local laws,” the company said in a statement posted on Twitter by MSNBC media reporter Dylan Byers.
Apple had come under vigorous fire this week in the People’s Daily, the official paper of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, which called the American firm an “escort” for “rioters” and said Chinese should boycott the company’s products.
The reversal comes in the context of a flurry of American and Western companies taking actions widely seen as contrary to democratic values, and their stated corporate commitments to them, to preserve access to the communist dictatorship’s lucrative market.
The National Basketball Association had several events canceled by China, and the Houston Rockets especially singled out, after Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey posted a tweet supporting democracy in Hong Kong
Rockets star James Harden tweeted an apology — to China. Such outspoken liberals as guard Steph Curry and coach Steve Kerr refused to comment or talked around such matters as China’s human-rights abuses in Hong Kong and elsewhere.
Other such capitalist brands as Marriott International, Activision Blizzard gaming and jeweler Tiffany & Co. have done things to appease China’s dictators.
• Valerie Richardson contributed to this report.