Bipartisan Group Of Lawmakers Blasts Tim Cook For Caving To China

Apple is facing blowback for deleting an app used by pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.

In a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook on Friday, a bipartisan group of legislators criticized the tech company for having removed an app from its App Store that aided pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.

The lawmakers highlighted Apple’s hypocritical failure to live up to its own ethical principles, citing Cook’s claim last year that Apple is a values-driven company.

“For those of us who support the promotion of basic human rights and dignity, it was refreshing to hear a tech titan say that priorities were more important than profits,” the letter reads. “So you can imagine our disappointment to read that Apple had removed HKMap.”

Apple pulled the app from its store under pressure from the Chinese Communist Party earlier this month. Pro-democracy protesters in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory had been using the crowdsourced mapping app to track police movements.

The company didn’t respond to a request for comment from HuffPost, but earlier this month, it defended the decision, telling Reuters in a statement that the app had been used to “endanger law enforcement and residents in Hong Kong.”

After noting that Apple has censored at least 2,200 apps in China, some of which undoubtedly helped aid oppressed ethnic minorities in the country, the lawmakers suggest that the tech giant may be complicit in that oppression.

“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,” they write. “We, too, believe that diplomacy and trade can be democratizing forces. But when a repressive government refuses to evolve or, indeed, when it doubles down, cooperation can become complicity.”

The letter boasts an impressive range of bipartisan support, with Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) co-signing along with Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), and Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.).

The lawmakers close with an appeal to upholding democratic values and a suggestion that the company act in a way that matches its lofty vision.

“We urge you in the strongest terms to reverse course, to demonstrate that Apple puts values above market access, and to stand with the brave men and women fighting for basic rights and dignity in Hong Kong.”

Read the full letter, below:

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