Apple pulls controversial Hong Kong app again after being attacked by China state-run media

Less than 24 hours after Apple received criticism from a state-run media company in China for reinstating the HKMap app in the App Store, the tech giant has pulled the app again.

The app's developer, HKmap.live, tweeted that it disagreed with the decision to pull the app, stating it does not "endanger law enforcement and residents in Hong Kong."

The account followed that up with several other tweets, adding that it believes the decision to pull the app to be a "bureaucratic" decision, but one that is also "clearly a political decision to suppress freedom and human right in Hong Kong."

Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple Inc., speaks about the new iPhone during an event at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019.

Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple Inc., speaks about the new iPhone during an event at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019. (David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

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In a statement to Fox News, Apple said that it found the app was being used in nefarious ways.

“We created the App Store to be a safe and trusted place to discover apps. We have learned that an app, HKmap.live, has been used in ways that endanger law enforcement and residents in Hong Kong. Many concerned customers in Hong Kong have contacted us about this app and we immediately began investigating it,” a spokesperson told Fox News.

The spokesperson continued: “The app displays police locations and we have verified with the Hong Kong Cybersecurity and Technology Crime Bureau that the app has been used to target and ambush police, threaten public safety, and criminals have used it to victimize residents in areas where they know there is no law enforcement. This app violates our guidelines and local laws, and we have removed it from the App Store.”

Earlier this week, an article in the state-owned media China Daily accused the tech giant of "helping [Hong Kong] rioters engage in more violence" after it reversed a decision to ban the app and reallow it, following a wave of public criticism.

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"As a company with international influence, Apple has always enjoyed a high reputation," the article reads. "A company has its own standards of conduct, but should also have its social responsibilities. If Apple abandons its responsibilities and let violent acts get worse, it puts more users at risk."

The article continues: "Business is business, and politics is politics. Nobody wants to drag Apple into the lingering unrest in Hong Kong. But people have reason to assume that Apple is mixing business with politics, and even illegal acts. Apple has to think about the consequences of its unwise and reckless decision."

China is an extremely important market for the iPhone maker, as the tech giant looks to offset slowing sales in its home market. In its most recent quarter, Greater China, which includes China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, accounted for $9.15 billion of its $53.8 billion quarterly revenue, or approximately 17 percent of quarterly revenue.

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