US Lawmakers Call on Apple to Reverse Hong Kong App Ban

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A group of US lawmakers has criticized Apple’s decision to withdraw an app used by Hong Kong protesters at the behest of Beijing, branding it “deeply concerning.”

The tech giant pulled HKmaplive from the App Store last week, claiming that it was used by the demonstrators to target police officers, and was therefore endangering their physical security.

However, its decision to censor after pressure from the Chinese government has angered senators and representatives in the US, including Ron Wyden, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

They argued in an open letter that the move contradicts Apple’s purported belief that “our values drive our curation decisions.”

“You have said publicly that you want to work with China’s leaders to effect change rather than sit on the sidelines and yell at them,” it read. “We, too, believe that diplomacy and trade can be democratizing forces. But when a repressive government refuses to evolve or, indeed, when it doubles down, cooperation can become complicity.”

The app is nothing more than a tool for law-abiding protesters “defending their promised autonomy” to avoid clashes with an increasingly aggressive local police force, they said. One teenage protester was shot point blank by an officer earlier this month, despite the latter carrying non-lethal deterrents to repel violent demonstrators.

“We urge you in the strongest terms to reverse course, to demonstrate that Apple puts values above market access, and to stand with the brave men and women fighting for basic rights and dignity in Hong Kong,” the letter concluded.

However, it’s unlikely to sway the Cupertino giant, which has already banned thousands of apps from its China App Store, including various VPNs and titles designed for use by ethnic Tibetan and Uyghur minorities.

The news comes as an emboldened Beijing grows increasingly intolerant of any views seen as critical of its repressive one-party regime.

An NBA team is facing substantial financial losses after a player came out in support of Hong Kongers, while game developer Blizzard said it was banning a player and taking his prize money after he expressed similar views. The group of lawmakers penned a separate letter to the latter company, which is part-owned by Chinese giant Tencent.

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