Factbox: Global firms take action after China criticism over Hong Kong protests

(Reuters) - Global companies and brands are walking a tightrope in China as they weigh the risks of angering consumers in the world’s most populous country over protests in Hong Kong.

Apple's new iPhone 11 phones are displayed at the Apple Store in IFC, Central district, Hong Kong, China October 10, 2019, after Apple Inc on Wednesday removed an app that protestors in Hong Kong have used to track police movements from its app store. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

Apple on Thursday was the latest company to face criticism over an app that helped Hong Kong protesters track police movements.

Following are recent news stories involving consumer-facing U.S. and European companies which have spoken out or taken action on issues relating to the protests.


The iPhone maker has removed app saying it was used to ambush police, as well as BackupHK, a separate app that served as a mirror of the app.

Apple had only approved the app last week after rejecting it earlier in the month. The Chinese Communist Party’s official newspaper called the app “poisonous” and decried what it said was Apple’s complicity in helping protesters.


Houston Rockets sneakers and other merchandise were pulled from several Nike stores in major Chinese cities amid the furor surrounding a tweet from the team’s general manager in support of anti-government protests in Hong Kong.


VF Corp’s apparel brand Vans removed “a small number” of submissions in a sneaker design competition including one apparently giving a shout out to Hong Kong protests.


The jeweler deleted a Twitter advertisement posted on Monday showing a female model with her hand covering her right eye, which some people interpreted as supporting the protesters in Hong Kong.

A female medic, who was hospitalized after being hit by a pellet in the eye during protests in August, became a symbol for what protesters say is excessive police force.

A Tiffany spokesman said the campaign image was photographed in May and was not intended to be a political statement of any kind.


The videogame maker’s unit Blizzard Entertainment on Tuesday said it had removed a Hong Kong player’s video-on-demand (VOD) replay of a Hearthstone match and banned the player from Hearthstone esports for a year, after the masked player called for the liberation of the region in a post-game interview.


In early September, the Spanish fashion brand issued a statement on Chinese social media expressing support for China’s sovereignty, after a local Hong Kong newspaper asked if closure of four Zara stores on Sept. 2 was in support of a student strike in Hong Kong.


The Italian luxury label, owned by Capri Holdings Ltd and its artistic director, Donatella Versace, apologized in August after one of its T-shirts depicting the Chinese-controlled territories of Hong Kong and Macau as countries was criticized on Chinese social media.


LVMH’s Givenchy apologized in a Weibo statement in August after T-shirts that listed Hong Kong and Taiwan as countries received criticism.

Reporting by Soundarya J in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel