On Thursday, Apple removed the smartphone app HKmap.live from its online store.
The app shows helps people avoid danger and trouble during Hong Kong’s ongoing protests. Apple withdrew the product under pressure from several sources, including the Communist Party newspaper People’s Daily.
“Is Apple guiding Hong Kong thugs?” it had asked in an opinion piece.
The company said in a statement that it removed HKmap.live from its app store because it “has been used to target and ambush police” and “threaten public safety.”
Apple said criminals have used the app to learn which areas have little police presence so they can more easily carry out crimes. “This app violates our guidelines and local laws, and we have removed it from the App Store,” the company said.
The company’s decision angered Apple users in Hong Kong - even those who have not been protesting in the streets.
Apple phone user Canny Ng said the decision was “not acceptable.” She added that she will reconsider buying more Apple products.
The existence of such an app shows that “most of the Hong Kong people, maybe they’re really afraid of the police nowadays,” she said.
Hong Kong office worker Acko Wong, 26, did not think the app helped criminals.
He said the argument that the app could be used in surprise attacks against police “does not make sense.”
“How do you ambush a group of police with equipment and gear like helmets and shields?” he asked.
Wong said he downloaded the app to stay away from “danger and traffic” during the many battles between protesters and police.
While no longer available for download, the app still works for users who had already downloaded it to their Apple devices. It also still works on some non-Apple devices.
The app is one of the many ways Hong Kong’s population stays informed about police teams. It also provides a record of police activities.
The protests in Hong Kong began after the government proposed an extradition law. The measure would have permitted sending people to mainland China for trial. That proposal has been withdrawn.
But, the protests have grown into a broader battle over self-rule. Activists say China is trying to end the partial self-rule promised in 1997 when Britain returned control of Hong Kong to China.
The crisis is putting pressure on those doing business with China to take sides.China recently criticized the United States National Basketball Association.
Last Friday, an official with the Houston Rockets team posted a message on Twitter in support of Hong Kong’s protesters. The post was removed a short time later.
China’s state TV answered the tweet by canceling broadcasts of NBA games.
I’m John Russell.
John Leicester and Joe McDonald reported on this story for the Associated Press. John Russell adapted it for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.
Words in This Story
thug – n. a violent criminal
ambush – v. to attack (someone or something) by surprise from a hidden place
gear – n. supplies, tools, or clothes needed for a special purpose
helmet – n. a hard hat that is worn to protect your head
shield – n. a large piece of metal, wood, etc., carried by someone (such as a soldier or police officer) for protection
We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section.