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Google Removes Hong Kong Protester Role-Playing App

12 October 2019

On Thursday, Apple removed the smartphone app HKmap.live from its online store.

Property developer New World Development Company Limited said it was cancelling the October 27 competition because of the "social situation".

Earlier, the Cupertino-based technology giant removed an iPhone application allegedly used by the anti-government protesters in Hong Kong to track and attack the country's police.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has spent much of the past year walking a thin line, trying to prod a truce between the US and China while also trying to protect his company's interests. Back in 2017 Cook agreed to remove VPN apps from the Chinese edition of the App Store after the government complained they were being used to circumvent its "great firewall" network.

"There are numerous cases of innocent passers-by in the neighbourhood injured by the Kong Kong Police Force's excessive force in crowd dispersal operations", he wrote.

Apple's decision came soon after Chinese state media criticized it for allowing HKmap to be downloaded. In a statement, the company further explained that these accusations have been verified by the Hong Kong Cybersecurity and Technology Crime Bureau, and as such, violates their guidelines.

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"The majority of user review [s] in the App Store ... suggest HKmap IMPROVED public safety, not the opposite", they said. But the truth is, few US companies have as much of their business tethered to China as Apple.

"HKmap is used by [sic] passerby, protesters, journalists, tourists, and even pro-government supporters ..."

As for the Chinese firms, the ban on doing business with American companies such as chipmakers may force them to develop their own components: "The signal from the USA government is clear - if you don't build up your supply chain you have a bottleneck".

"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".

Despite a series of Tweets being posted from HKmap.live that categorically denies the claims, a leaked memo from Tim Cook to Apple employees has also been making the rounds.

The protesters in Taipei called for continuous attention by the Taiwanese public for developments in Hong Kong, and asked the government to pass asylum measures to help refugees find a safe harbor, CNA reported.

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HKmap.live expressed disappointment to see US brands "such as Apple, NBA, Blizzard Entertainment, and Tiffany & Co. act against freedom".

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.

Apple was under fire this week after banning an app that tracked the location of both police and protesters in Hong Kong on a live map.

A Google spokesman said "The Revolution Of Our Times" app recently pulled from its app store, which lets users role play as Hong Kong protesters, violated a long-standing policy "prohibiting developers from capitalizing on sensitive events, such as attempting to make money from serious ongoing conflicts or tragedies through a game".

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. China has emerged as the company's third-largest market behind the USA and Europe, accounting for 20% of its sales during its past fiscal year. It's also where Apple manufactures most of its products, including iPhones and iPads.

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Google Removes Hong Kong Protester Role-Playing App