Ben Lovejoy: Apple’s relationship with China is turning into a massive liability

First things first, from this MacRumors article:

Apple has pulled an app from the App Store that Hong Kong protestors have been using to track police movements, saying it violates the company’s guidelines and local laws.

Apple approved HKmap Live last week after reviewing its decision to initially reject the app from the  App Store .


However, on Wednesday Apple was criticized by Chinese state media for its decision to make the app available. “Letting poisonous software have its way is a betrayal of the Chinese people’s feelings,” said the People’s Daily.

Apple’s official response:

We created the  App Store  to be a safe and trusted place to discover apps. We have learned that an app,, 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. 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 .

With all that as background, take a read of Ben Lovejoy’s op-ed.

This is an incredibly complex situation for Apple, indeed for anyone doing business in China. Sides are being drawn, push coming to shove. Ben does a nice job laying out a number of issues that are all coming into focus here.