Apple’s decision comes towards a backdrop of major American companies being seen as bowing to political pressure from Beijing.
In merely the past week, the NBA groveled its way around a tweet from a team executive supporting the protests, while video games publisher Activision Blizzard banned e-sports competitor Ng Wai “Blitzchung” Chung for showing his support for the movement.
And Google removed a role-playing game known as “Revolution of Our Times” from its app store after deeming it violated its policies on depicting “sensitive events” (the player plays the role of a Hong Kong protester). Based on the Wall Street Journal, Hong Kong authorities had contacted Google concerns about that app – although the company had mentioned it decided to take action before any communication took place.
One bucking of the trend, however, came through Tim Sweeney, chief executive of Epic Games, the firm behind online multiplayer game Fortnite.
“Epic supports everyone’s right to talk freely,” he wrote on Twitter, in response to a query about gamers voicing support for Hong Kong protesters. Chinese tech giant Tencent owns 40% of the firm.
“China players of Fortnite are free to criticize the US or criticize Epic just as equally as all others,” Mr. Sweeney stated.
In characteristically astute timing, an episode of Comedy Central’s South Park earlier this month led Chinese censors to “delete virtually every clip, episode, and online discussion of the show from Chinese streaming services, social media, and even fan pages,” based on the Hollywood Reporter.
The episode featured four of the show’s main characters working on a movie script that will get continuously altered so that it might be distributed in China.