US lawmakers urge Apple to restore HKMap app used in Hong Kong

A photo illustration showing a smartphone displaying the HKmap app in Hong Kong, on Oct 10, 2019.
A photo illustration showing a smartphone displaying the HKmap app in Hong Kong, on Oct 10, 2019.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON • A bipartisan group of seven United States lawmakers, including Senators Ted Cruz, Ron Wyden and Marco Rubio and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, urged Apple chief executive Tim Cook last Friday to restore the HKMap app used in Hong Kong.

Earlier this month, Apple removed the app that helped Hong Kong protesters track police movements, saying it was used to target officers.

The group separately wrote to Activision Blizzard's chief executive Robert Kotick, calling on him to reverse the company's decision to ban a player who voiced support for pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

"You have said publicly that you want to work with China's leaders to effect change rather than sit on the sidelines and yell at them. We, too, believe that diplomacy and trade can be democratising forces. But when a repressive government refuses to evolve or, indeed, when it doubles down, cooperation can become complicity," the members wrote to Mr Cook.

Apple said the HKMap app "has been used to target and ambush police, threaten public safety, and criminals have used it to victimise residents in areas where they know there is no law enforcement".

Critics said Apple acted after pressure from Beijing in a commentary in the Chinese Communist Party's official newspaper.

Apple's action came amid a furore surrounding the US National Basketball Association after a team official tweeted in support of the Hong Kong protests, which led Chinese sponsors and partners to cut ties with the NBA.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 23, 2019, with the headline 'US lawmakers urge Apple to restore HKMap app used in Hong Kong'. Print Edition | Subscribe