Foreign firms should adhere to China’s laws

By Chen Qingqing Source:Global Times Published: 2019/10/10 21:38:40

Apple is smart to remove controversial app which helped HK rioters: analyst

Photo: A screenshot of Twitter account of the

Foreign firms are welcomed to invest in China, but they should adhere to Chinese laws and respect Chinese people's sentiments, especially involving the riots in Hong Kong, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in response to Apple removing an app on Thursday that helps rioters track police movements and dodge them.

Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang made the remarks at a routine briefing on Thursday, reiterating that recent extremist, violent and criminal activities in Hong Kong have challenged the city's rule of law and social order, China Central Television reported. 

"Anyone with a good conscience and a sense of justice should oppose such criminal activities instead of supporting or condoning them," Geng noted. 

Apple learned that, an app that can display police's locations, has been used in ways that endanger law enforcement and residents in Hong Kong, the company said in a statement. 

"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," it said. 

"This app violates our guidelines and local laws, and we have removed it from the Apple Store." 

The app, which crowdsources information about where the Hong Kong police force is deployed during protests, has become a popular real-time map used by street rioters as it enables them to find out precisely where police officers are, where tear gas has been used, and where water cannons are deployed. 

The app, along with its website, marks the positions of police officers with dog emojis - "dogs" being a frequently used term by Hong Kong rioters to refer to the police. 

Some have suggested the app was designed to help rioters escape law enforcement, and it has sparked a massive backlash online as many netizens harshly criticized it for facilitating riot activities.

The removal came a day after the People's Daily, the flagship newspaper of the Communist Party of China, published an article asking whether Apple is helping Hong Kong rioters engage in more violence.

Chinese netizens applauded Apple's decision, saying Apple is "finally doing the right thing." Many said Apple used the term "criminals" to describe rioters in its statement. 

Some lawmakers in Hong Kong also welcomed Apple's move, although some opposition groups think it's unreasonable because the app could guarantee the safety of citizens to avoid the police. 

"If you follow the rules and don't break the law, why would you need to avoid the police?" Elizabeth Quat, a legislator, told the Global Times on Thursday. 

"Only those who violate the law need to avoid police. What the majority are afraid of the most are rioters who throw Molotov cocktails, set fire to banks and assault ordinary people," she said. 

Multinational corporations will risk losing the Chinese market if they meddle in the nation's sovereignty and territorial integrity, analysts said.

Analysts believe it is unlikely that Apple deliberately supported Hong Kong rioters, saying that the app may have been approved by the Apple App Store following technical loopholes in its review process.

"This is another warning shot for Apple, and maybe it's time to enhance its review process to avoid the occurrence of similar incidents," Liu Dingding, a Beijing-based independent industry analyst, told the Global Times. 

"However, Apple values the Chinese market, and removing the controversial app is a smart move," he said.

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