Home > Analysis > The Chinese Don’t Understand Freedom … They are Too Sensitive and Easily Offended… Right?

The Chinese Don’t Understand Freedom … They are Too Sensitive and Easily Offended… Right?

Over the last week or so, there has been a strong reaction in China against Apple for releasing an App called HKmap.live as well as NBA’s apparent official support for the “protesters.” From SCMP:

Chinese state media on Tuesday accused Apple Inc of protecting “rioters” in Hong Kong and enabling illegal behaviour, after the US-based technology giant listed on its app store an application that tracks police activity in the city.

Apple had previously rejected the app, called HKmap.live, but reversed its decision on Friday and made the programme available for download from the iOS App Store on Saturday, according to the program’s developer.

The app relies on crowdsourced information to track the location of police presence in the city, alerting users to police vehicles, armed officers and incidents in which people have been injured. The app — a website version is also active — displays hotspots on a map of the city that is continuously updated as users report incidents.

“By allowing its platform to clear the way for an app that incites illegal behaviour, [does Apple] not worry about damaging its reputation and hurting the feelings of consumers?” said a bellicose commentary published on the app of People’s Daily, the Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece.

Such outcry echoed the recent vitriol against the NBA and, in particular, the Houston Rockets. Daryl Morey, general manager of the Rockets, tweeted an image that read “Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong” – a slogan frequently used by the protesters – on Saturday before quickly deleting it.

The post drew outrage from the Chinese public, government officials and Chinese business partners of the league, and prompted the Chinese Basketball Association to suspend ties with the Rockets.

As the NBA scrambled to distance itself from Morey’s post, the league came under fire at home, with scores of US lawmakers accusing the association of sacrificing principle for profit. NBA commissioner Adam Silver has since sought to assuage such concerns, saying at a Tuesday news conference in Tokyo that the league supported Morey’s right to freedom of speech.

So here we go again, Americans waiving the flag of “freedom” to dismiss Chinese national (security, social cohesion, and otherwise) concerns.

Would Apple or Google release apps or other platforms that are used to evade police and to conspire violence? Would Apple or Google release an App to help violent rioters such as certain “white supremacists” or “antifa” people commit crimes against fellow citizens and police?

We know Twitter, Facebook, Google and everyone else remove posts and apps that “violate” their terms of policy, including platforms that promote “hate speech,” “untrustworthy” information, “promotion” or “incitement” of “violence,” etc. Would they ever openly justify aiding and abetting violence in the U.S. or its allies? No way! But I guess when it comes to China, social and national concerns can have no legitimate place, only shrill calls for “freedom”…

I am not necessarily one of those who criticizes all violence categorically. I mean, if people really think it’s time for revolution, fine. Then let’s have a revolution … with all that it entails. But until then, let’s abide by common civics and rule of law!!!

In every nation I know of, freedom always comes with responsibilities and generally does not include freedom to beat, maim, kill, murder, rape, incite and conspire to do violence, etc.

This is what bothers me so much about Daryl Morey blasting his support of the HK rioters. Hong Kong does not have a law against protesting per se. It however does have laws against indiscriminate violent attacks on citizens, businesses, public properties, police officers, and general community – as do the U.S. and all other nations I know of.

If Morey supports indiscriminate freedom, fine. But he too then should respect the freedom of people in China to follow their conscience and boycott his team.

If Morey wants to move his team to play Hong Kong, great! But if some of Hong Kong’s patriotic anti-rioters show up at those games and start beating, hitting, and killing his “fans,” I hope he would also stand up for rights of those patriotic anti-rioters. I mean if we want freedom, we would want freedom for all, right, not just a select few – right?

As for the NBA, Apple, and Google, Facebook and others, I hope you guys understand the above logic. If you truly support the rioters’ freedom to violence, then so should you support freedom of ALL. Why do you go about religiously deleting “fake news” or accounts from the right, or Iran or Russia or China on grounds that they interfered with domestic political discourse, incite hatred or violence or spew disinformation or whatever … but blindly and categorically invoke freedom of blah blah blah when it comes to China?

Please take back your freedom nugget and apply to yourself and your community first. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Do your homework before you preach and judge. Crying “fire” in a crowded theater – whether in the U.S. or Hong Kong – is a crime … not “Freedom.”

  1. Ngok Ming Cheung
    October 9th, 2019 at 17:45 | #1

    it’s not that China is more sensitive. It’s the fact that China is already number 1 by PPP ( Purchase Power Parity). China can stand up and say NO to U.S.. When I was in China last year, the bus fares were 2-3 Yuan, subways were 2-8 Yuan, so the GDP generated are 3-10 times less compare to U.S.. China is capable of producing high tech equipment and products despite U,S. sanctions. Most people in U.S. are arrogant and indifferent to the sufferings of other people, shouting slogans such as “U.S.A., we are number 1.”. Protests in Iraq which killed more than 100 and injured more than 1,000, drowning of hundreds of refugees were barely mentioned in mass media here and totally ignored. Freedom has different meanings for different people. For Iraqis it’s survival, food and work. For U.S. it’s freedom of speech without consequence, likely to the regret of Trump on his Ukraine phone call. For some in Hong Kong it’s the right to be U.S. wannabes, second class colonial coolies looking down on the mass unwashed in China. But for Chinese people, here I have to exclude some that denied being Chinese but as Hong Kongers we are proud of China, her achievements, civilization and culture. And I have to include myself even though I lived in U.S..

  2. October 11th, 2019 at 09:56 | #2

    Quick update, Apple has removed the HKmap.live app from its store. From SCMP:

    In an about-face, Apple removes Hong Kong protest map app following China backlash

    Apple said the HKmap.live app, which crowdsources locations of police and anti-government protesters in the city, violated its rules as it was used to target and ambush police, victimise residents and threaten public safety.

    “We have learned that an app, HKmap.live, has been used in ways that endanger law enforcement and residents in Hong Kong,” Apple said in a statement. “This app violates our guidelines and local laws, and we have removed it from the App Store.”

    Following Apple’s move, Google on Thursday removed from its own online marketplace a mobile game that let people play as a Hong Kong protester, saying it violated a policy against cashing in on conflicts.

    The decision to yank The Revolution of Our Times game from Google’s Play Store did not result from any takedown requests by police or any other party outside the California-based company, according to Google.

    “We have a longstanding policy prohibiting developers from capitalising on sensitive events such as attempting to make money from serious ongoing conflicts or tragedies through a game,” Google said in response to an AFP inquiry.

    “After careful review, we found this app to be violating that particular policy and suspended it, as we have done with similar attempts to profit from other high-profile events such as earthquakes, crises, suicides and conflicts.”

  3. October 15th, 2019 at 20:30 | #3

    Good response on the idea that China is restraining Freedom of Speech by reacting so strongly to NBA’s comments, and further development of the idea that Freedom of speech is applied in discriminatory fashion based on speech content.


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