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Apple and Google support protesters but not in Hong Kong, where business comes first

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Apple CEO Tim Cook has decided to address the tech giant’s employees on the occasion of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last weekend, that caused protests and rioting across the country.

According to Bloomberg, Cook goes into race issues in the US such as discrimination and inequality. What prompted Cook to speak in this way were many Apple employees expressing concern about discrimination happening in their own communities, he said.

As a remedy to this, the Apple CEO pledged the company would be making donations to relevant rights groups, such as the Equal Justice Initiative.

In the memo, he says that while laws have changed in the US, discrimination is still “deeply rooted” in many parts of the system, like the judiciary and health care, and reassured Apple employees that the company would reexamine its own views and actions.

As for the protests that have turned to violence and looting in many places, Apple announced it would be temporarily closing down most of its stores in the US for health and safety reasons.

Meanwhile, in his memo, Cook states that “issues of human dignity will not abide standing on the sidelines.”

This might sound hollow to some, given Apple’s recent controversial behavior regarding pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

At one particularly critical point last October, Apple decided to remove from its store an app used by protesters, web mapping service HKmap Live.

Apple cited content enabling illegal activity as the reason – while protesters said it helped them navigate away from areas where they might face police brutality. But critics said that instead of upholding legality, Apple was simply pandering to China in order to protect its business in that country.

Apple is far from the only US tech giant that has been hypocritical. Google has made similar statements today, only to ignore the same protests in Hong Kong both last year and this year, apparently to appease Chinese authorities for pragmatic reasons.

In January, Google banned WhatsGap – an app promoting pro-democracy local businesses in Hong Kong. The move seemed like an even stronger statement of commitment to not upsetting Beijing, given that the app is not directly related to protests.

And prior to that, Google removed “The Revolution of Our Times,” a Hong Kong protester game, from its Play Store.

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