HONG KONG — Under pressure from China, Apple has removed a smartphone app that enabled Hong Kong protesters to track police. It has cut off access in mainland China to a news app that extensively covered the anti-government demonstrations. And it has made it harder to find an emoji representing the Taiwanese national flag.
The tech company’s latest acts of capitulation to China’s ruling Communist Party have alienated some Hong Kong consumers and angered democracy activists around the world. But the truth is, few U.S. companies have as much of their business tethered to China as Apple.
“That’s the price you pay if you want to be in the market,” said Matt Schrader, a China analyst for the Alliance for Securing Democracy at the German Marshall Fund. “You have to abide by demands to censor information: anything that paints the party or its history, or its top leaders, in an unflattering light, or disagrees with their preferred portrayal of China as a country.”