China warns Apple against ‘reckless’ support of HK protesters

“Apple has to think about the consequences of its unwise and reckless decision,” a Chinese opinion piece said. (File/AFP)
Updated 09 October 2019

China warns Apple against ‘reckless’ support of HK protesters

  • China tolerates no dissent on the highly sensitive issue and has increasingly targeted foreign companies
  • Hong Kong has endured nearly four months of protests triggered by a now-scraped extradition bill

BEIJING: China’s state media accused Apple Wednesday of supporting pro-democracy protesters, warning the US tech giant would suffer consequences for its “unwise and reckless” decision, in an echo of campaigns against other Western firms.
An opinion piece in the People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of the ruling Communist Party, highlighted a transport app available on Apple’s store that it alleged helped protesters identify police in Hong Kong.
“Apple’s approval for the app obviously helps rioters,” the article said.
“Does this mean Apple intended to be an accomplice to the rioters?“
The article then cautioned that: “The map app is just the tip of the iceberg.”
It alleged that a song advocating “Hong Kong independence” had appeared on the “Apple Music Store” in the southern Chinese city, then issued an ominous warning.
“Nobody wants to drag Apple into the lingering unrest in Hong Kong. But people have reason to assume that Apple is mixing business with politics, and even illegal acts,” it said.
“Apple has to think about the consequences of its unwise and reckless decision,” the article said.
As with other campaigns led by state-run press against foreign firms for perceived support of the democracy movement in Hong Kong, comments on China’s strictly controlled Internet echoed those of the media.
“It definitely wasn’t an accident that Apple allowed HKmap.live online,” wrote one commentator on Weibo.
“(Apple) should know exactly what it’s doing... It seems that there is too little domestic pressure against Apple.”
Apple, which has a huge presence in China, did not immediately reply to an emailed request for comment.
Hong Kong has endured nearly four months of protests that were ignited by a now-scrapped plan to allow extraditions of criminal suspects to the mainland.
They snowballed into a movement calling for more democratic freedoms and police accountability, in the biggest challenge to China’s rule of Hong Kong since its handover from the British in 1997.
China tolerates no dissent on the highly sensitive issue and has in recent weeks increasingly targeted foreign companies and organizations for perceived support of the protesters.
The American National Basketball Association was this week targeted after the general manager of the Houston Rockets, Daryl Morey, posted a tweet supporting the protesters.
US jewelry brand Tiffany and Hong Kong’s flagship carrier, Cathay Pacific, have also been heavily criticized in China.


Lufthansa accepts tweaked demands by Brussels over state bailout

Updated 30 May 2020

Lufthansa accepts tweaked demands by Brussels over state bailout

  • Lufthansa and the rest of the airline sector have been hard hit by what is expected to be a protracted travel slump

BERLIN/FRANKFURT: Lufthansa’s management board has accepted a more favorable set of demands from the European Commission in exchange for approval of a $10 billion government bailout, the carrier said on Saturday, paving the way for its rescue.
The agreement comes after the airline’s supervisory board on Wednesday rejected an initial deal with Brussels including conditions that were significantly more painful.
Lufthansa and the rest of the airline sector have been hard hit by what is expected to be a protracted travel slump due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Under the latest agreement, Lufthansa said it will be obliged to transfer up to 24 takeoff and landing slots for up to four aircraft to one rival each at the Frankfurt and Munich airports.
This translates into three take-off and three landing rights per aircraft and day, it said, confirming what sources had earlier told Reuters.
“For one-and-a-half years, this option is only available to new competitors at the Frankfurt and Munich airports,” Lufthansa said, initially excluding budget carrier Ryanair. “If no new competitor makes use of this option, it will be extended to existing competitors at the respective airports.”
The previous deal had included forfeiting 72 slots used by 12 of 300 jets based at the Frankfurt and Munich airports, a source familiar with the matter said.
The slots, to be allocated in a bidding process, can be taken over only by a European peer that has not received any substantial state aid during the pandemic, Lufthansa said.
The Commission said once it has been officially notified by Germany on the aid package it will assess the issue as a matter of priority.
“(Lufthansa’s remedies will) enable a viable entry or expansion of activities by other airlines at these airports to the benefit of consumers and effective competition,” it said in a statement.
The airline’s supervisory board needs to approve the deal, Lufthansa said, adding it would convene an extraordinary general meeting to obtain shareholder approval for the bailout.
The largest German corporate rescue since the coronavirus crisis struck will see the government get a 20 percent stake in Lufthansa, which could rise to 25 percent plus one share in the event of a takeover attempt. A deal would also give the government two seats on Lufthansa’s supervisory board.
Rivals such as Franco-Dutch group Air France-KLM and US carriers American Airlines, United Airlines and Delta Air Lines are all seeking state aid due to the economic effects of the pandemic.
Germany, which has set up a $110 billion fund to take stakes in companies hit by the pandemic, said it plans to sell the Lufthansa stake by the end of 2023.
“The German government, Lufthansa and the European Commission have reached an important intermediate step in the aid negotiations,” the Economy Ministry said in a statement.
It said talks with the Commission over state aid would continue.