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Why an app that tracks Hong Kong protest hotspots has riled China.

By: Explained Desk | Updated: October 10, 2019 7:01:53 am
Hong Kong protests, Hong Kong anti-government protests, HKmap.LIVE, Hong Kong China protests, hong kong social media protests An anti-government protester sets a fire during a rally outside Mong Kok police station, in Hong Kong, China (Reuters)

People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party, has lashed out at Apple for hosting on its App Store an app that tracks and displays the movement of police in Hong Kong. The app,, “facilitates illegal behaviour”, People’s Daily said in a commentary. (screenshot right) publishes crowdsourced information on the location of armed police forces, vehicles, use of tear gas, and clashes and injuries on a map of Hong Kong that is regularly updated. A website version is available too, as also a version for Android, but the People’s Daily article did not mention this, and instead concentrated on its attack on Apple.

“Is Apple guiding Hong Kong thugs?” the article asked. “Apple’s approval for the app obviously helps rioters,” it said, and asked: “Does this mean Apple intended to be an accomplice to the rioters?” according to reports by the AP, AFP, The South China Morning Post, and The Guardian. “People have reason to assume that Apple is mixing business with politics, and even illegal acts,” the opinion piece said. It warned “this recklessness will cause much trouble for Apple”.

China, which is sensitive to international criticism of its policies, pulled NBA games off state TV after a team official tweeted in support of Hong Kongers protesting for democracy and freedom. It had earlier criticised the US jewellery brand Tiffany, and the airline Cathay Pacific.

The SCMP, which contacted the developer of the app on Twitter, quoted the developer as saying Apple previously rejected the app, but reversed its decision on Friday and made the app available for download from the iOS App Store on Saturday. Apple did not respond to media requests for a comment.

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