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This is how the conflict of Hong Kong impacts on technology companies

The conflict in Hong Kong has launched splinters that have come to the doors of some of the main companies of technology and video games, and therefore, to its millions of users. And is that what began in July of 2019 as peaceful protests against a controversial draft law on extradition criminal —today archive—, has escalated to a larger conflict, with demonstrations daily of the citizens of Hong Kong against the Chinese government in demand for democratic reforms.

Apple withdrew in October 2019, from their store App Store an app of geolocation that protesters used to coordinate. However, this is not the first that gives way to pressure china, and what most likely won’t be the last. And is that foreign companies must walk a thin line if they want to access an emerging market of 1,400 million people, but with a government that imposes harsh restrictions on his opponents. From social networks to the video game industry, this is how the conflict of Hong Kong has impacted american companies of technology and video games.

Apple low applications

HKmap.live

“This application violates all of our guidelines, and local laws, and we have removed from the App Store.” In this way, Apple confirmed the reasons for that had fallen from its apps market to HKmap.live, a app geolocation collaborative used for sharing information about the protests in Hong Kong.

The trigger, however, would have been an opinion article published in the state journal chinese The People’s Daily, which accused the firm of Cupertino to be an “accomplice” of the protesters by allowing to HKmap.live, and urged the company to reflect on its “reckless decision”.

In a statement, a spokesman of Apple said that the app was used to “attack and ambush police”, putting at risk the public safety. According to Apple, contrasted information with the Office of Crimes of Cybersecurity and Technology of Hong Kong confirming that you have been used to threaten public safety and even attacking residents in areas where there is no police force.

Even though I had already rejected the application, but then gave back, Apple’s decision seems to be final. For your developers, HKmap.live not in violation of local law, since it is based on information in the public domain, and nor is there any evidence that endangers the residents and the police in Hong Kong.

This is not the only one questioning against Apple. According to the same article of view, the company had been allowed to climb in Apple Music to a song that, according to the chinese authorities, supports the independence of Hong Kong. It would be Glory to Hong Kong, which has become a kind of anthem for protesters.

The restrictions also affected the news site Quartz, whose application was also withdrawn from the Apple App Store. In addition, it asserts that the access to its website was blocked in mainland China. According to Quartz, he received a notice from Apple stating that the app “includes content that is illegal in China”.

“We reject this kind of government censorship of the internet and we have a number of alternatives to circumvent these prohibitions,” said the executive director of Quartz, Zach Seward, in a statement picked up by The Verge.

The game also does not escape

Hearthstone

The shrapnel of the conflict in Hong Kong also reached a surprisingly the world of video games, after that a professional player of Hearthstone, a title of trading cards of Activision Blizzard, got kicked out of a competition for supporting the protests. “Liberate Hong Kong, the revolution of our time,” shouted Chung Ng Wai during an interview on a chain taiwanese, after a tournament game Hearthstone Grandmasters, a professional event of eSports.

The developer, whose property is involved the technology giant chinese Tencent, said that “sailing for the right to express thoughts and individual opinions”, but the rules allow players who have a behavior that offends the public, or damage your image or reputation may be deleted.

Chung, also known as Blitzchung, was not only expelled from the tournament, but he also received a one-year suspension for any official competition and, in addition, the $10,000 dollars that accumulated in prize money will be withheld. “I don’t regret saying those things. I don’t regret it at all,” he said in an interview with AFP.

Unlike Blizzard, his rival Epic Games, developer of Fortnite, stated that it will not prevent players to broadcast political speeches. “Epic supports the right of all to express their points of view on politics and human rights,” said a company spokesman.

Social networks

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By contrast, Facebook, Twitter and even YouTube, the platform of videos from Google, have taken measures that would have affected the chinese government, which has been accused of carrying out campaigns of misinformation in social networks.

Last August, Youtube went down a 210-channel, which would have risen in a coordinated manner videos related to the protests in Hong Kong. According to Shane Huntley, the Group’s Analysis of Threats from Google, these accounts used VPN services and other mechanisms to disguise their origin.

Although he did not know what messages or specific videos had been published, it is presumed that they would have tried to message propaganda that sought to discredit the protests in Hong Kong.

In the same vein, Twitter has eliminated more than 900 accounts originating from China for “sowing discord policy in Hong Kong”, which even sought to undermine the “legitimacy and political positions” of the protesters. Faceboo also did the same

On the ledge

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Hong Kong. Andy Yeung/Andy Yeung Photography

The effects of the protests in Hong Kong also reached out to the National Basketball Association (NBA, for its acronym in English), then the general manager of the Houston Rockets, Daryl Morey, sent a tweet in support of the protesters. The technology giant Tencent and the state television, china said that they do not transmit computer games, and even a review of the co-operation and exchanges with the NBA.

In recent years, the cases of companies affected by restrictions on chinese are innumerable. The CEO of Cathay Pacific Airways had to resign after some of its employees to participate in anti-government protests, GAP had to apologize for pulling out a t-shirt with a map of China did not consider Taiwan, like Delta Air Lines, the operator hotelier Marriott and the fashion brand Zara.

The director of programs for China at the Research Institute of Asia from the University of Nottingham, Jonathan Sullivan, said in statements collected by The los Angeles Times that “all, states and companies, seem to accept that they have to tread on egg shells when it comes to China, for fear to offend them and be punished.”

In both, the professor of corporate communication at the School of Business Tuck Dartmouth, Paul Argenti, warned CNBC that the companies must know what they’re getting into when they enter into a relationship with China. “You have a regime that does not seem to the united States. We can pretend that it is a democracy, but it is not,” he said.

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