Apple on Thursday withdrew an app that enabled protesters to track police movements after heavy backlash from Chinese and Hong Kong authorities.
The app, HKmap.live, represented clusters of police with the emoji of a dog, an insult that has been shouted at Hong Kong police during the ongoing protests in the city.
Officials in Hong Kong told the company the app was being used to attack police. On Wednesday the Chinese Communist Party newspaper People’s Daily published an editorial attacking Apple for aiding “rioters” in the city.
“Letting poisonous software have its way is a betrayal of the Chinese people’s feelings,” the editorial stated.
Apple released a statement saying Hong Kong authorities have verified that the app has been used to “threaten public safety,” and that criminals have also been using it to avoid police.
“I think the [Communist Party] concludes from this that intimidation, harassment and pressure work for most people, in most places,” Human Rights Watch China researcher Maya Wang said in comments to the Times.
Most of Apple’s products are assembled in China, and the nation represents the company’s third-largest market after the U.S. and Europe.
China-U.S. relations have soured in recent days following various conflicts between the Chinese government and American officials and entities.
On Wednesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced visa restrictions on Chinese officials believed to have taken part in the repression of China’s Uighur Muslim minority. Pompeo’s announcement came after the Commerce Department imposed an export blacklist on several Chinese firms implicated in surveillance and detention of Uighurs.
Meanwhile, the NBA recently found itself embroiled in a scandal after Congress members accused it of kowtowing to China’s repressive policies regarding pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.