The tension has highlighted some USA firms' dependence on China while raising questions about their willingness to compromise on values such as freedom of expression to continue doing business in the country, where authorities tolerate no criticism of the ruling party. "These decisions are never easy, and it is harder still to discuss these topics during moments of furious public debate", the CEO wrote. It's an ironic inversion of a longstanding argument in the West that by bringing China into the world trade system, the country would adopt western values.
But as Apple's business evolves from selling hardware to increasingly focusing on services such as music, movies, news and other content for its streaming platforms, censorship issues in China will probably get stickier.
"We should continue to look for tools to stand up for human rights and for democracy and to speak clearly against repression and torture and murder", he said.
The incident was emblematic of the commercial bind Apple finds itself in the region: greater China - an area that includes mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan - accounts for a fifth of Apple revenues and 27 per cent of its profits.
"They all do it".
Apple didn't reply to emailed requests to explain other recent measures criticized as caving in to China. It's an accepted practice. But it may not have give Apple the real reason. And theyallwant to play in that market. "At the end of the day, China is the heart and lungs of Apple's success over the coming years". And as we've seen over the past week, it is particularly vigilant about apps. Developers told BuzzFeed News that disappearing apps on the App Store are a regular occurrence.
"The majority of user review [s] in the App Store ... suggest HKmap IMPROVED public safety, not the opposite", they said. "It's not a line of communication that would be open to any discussion".
The protests have plunged the city into its worst crisis since it returned from British to Chinese rule in 1997, posing the biggest popular challenge to Chinese President Xi Jinping since he came to power in 2012.
These were hardly the first of their kind. Thursday's removal of the app drew immediate reprimands from Washington.
"She seems to misunderstand how free speech operates, and also how freedom of the press operates", said Mr Cruz, a Republican senator from Texas and a vocal critic of China who was stopping in Hong Kong for two days as part of a regional tour.
Apple is not the only U.S. institution to run into controversy trying to maintain its values while remaining in the Chinese government's good graces.
Beijing's criticism of Apple followed government attacks last weekend on the National Basketball Association over a tweet by the general manager of the Houston Rockets in support of the protesters.
Mok's letter defends the HKmap.live app.
But a games company's move to censor an e-sports player has met with a much angrier response from its customers.
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