Chinese state media on Wednesday accused Apple of supporting pro-democracy protesters and warned that the US technology giant would have implications for its “unwise and reckless” decision, echoing campaigns against other Western companies.
An opinion piece in the People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of the ruling Communist Party, emphasized a transport app that was available in the Apple store and claimed that demonstrators could identify the police in Hong Kong.
“Apple’s approval for the app clearly helps rioters,” the article said.
“Does this mean that Apple intended to be an accomplice to the rioters?”
The article then warned that: “The map app is just the tip of the iceberg”.
It claimed that a song that advocated “independence from Hong Kong” had appeared in the “Apple Music Store” in the South China city and then issued an ominous warning.
“Nobody wants to drag Apple into the ongoing unrest in Hong Kong. But people have reason to believe that Apple mixes business with politics, and even illegal acts,” it said.
“Apple needs to think about the consequences of its unwise and reckless decision,” the article said.
As with other state-led campaigns against foreign companies for perceived support from the democracy movement in Hong Kong, comments about China’s strictly controlled internet reflected that of the media.
“It was absolutely no coincidence that Apple allowed HKmap.live online,” wrote a commentator on Weibo.
“(Apple) needs to know exactly what it is doing … There seems to be too little domestic pressure on Apple.”
Apple, which has a huge presence in China, did not immediately respond to a mailed request for comment.
Hong Kong has endured nearly four months of protests that were ignited by a now scrapped plan to allow extradition of criminal suspects to the mainland.
They merged into a movement that called for more democratic freedoms and police responsibility, the biggest challenge for Hong Kong’s Chinese rule since the transfer of the British in 1997.
China does not tolerate a difference of opinion on the highly sensitive issue and has in recent weeks increasingly identified foreign companies and organizations as a target for experienced demonstrators’ support.
The American National Basketball Association was the target this week after the Houston Rockets CEO, Daryl Morey, posted a tweet to support the demonstrators.
The American jewelry brand Tiffany and the flagship of Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific, have also been heavily criticized in China.