The Chinese Communist Party’s main newspaper on Wednesday criticized Apple over an app that allows pro-democracy protesters to report police movements in Hong Kong.
According to a new report from The Guardian, Chinese state-owned newspaper The People’s Daily has launched an attack against Apple, warning the technology giant about the possible consequences of allowing the app HKmap.live onto its app store, and other pieces of media that allegedly support independence for Hong Kong.
In what TechCrunch sees as “a not-so-veiled threat about continued access to the Chinese market,” the commentary adds that “mixing business with politics, and even illegal acts” is “unwise and reckless” and will only bring trouble for Apple.
The People’s Daily commentary said the app, HKmap.live, which is made by an outside supplier and available in the App Store, “facilitates illegal behaviour.”
“Is Apple guiding Hong Kong thugs?” the newspaper added. “This recklessness will cause much trouble for Apple. Apple needs to think deeply.”
The piece is also purported to have criticized Apple over the fact that “Glory to Hong Kong,” something of an unofficial anthem of the protests in Hong Kong, was available to download/stream on Apple Music.
Among the big tech platforms, China is perhaps most important to Apple: The company both manufactures and sells its devices there, and the Chinese market is the linchpin of its growth plan. When Apple warned of slowing China sales in January, its stock took its steepest drop in six years.
Apple is already facing a tough situation in China, where it’s lost market share for smartphones to domestic rivals like Huawei, amid an earlier surge of patriotism around the Chinese tech giant. A fresh wave of patriotism could dampen the hopes it has for its newly launched iPhone 11 series.