In a recent update to iOS 13.1, Apple’s iPhone operating system, Apple reportedly removed the Taiwanese flag emoji from its keyboard for users in Hong Kong and Macau, China’s two special administrative regions.
Taiwan is an independently run democracy, but China considers it part of its territory.
However, against the backdrop of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests, the move exemplifies continued corporate subservience to the Chinese government. Apple has blocked the Taiwanese flag emoji in mainland China since 2017. For a time, the code for mainland censorship caused some iPhones to crash whenever the devices tried to display the Taiwanese flag. (Apple fixed that bug in July 2018.)
Apple’s region lock of ROC Taiwan flag 🇹🇼 extended beyond CN devices to HK and Macau’s in the iOS/iPadOS 13.1.1 rollout. Interestingly, the new lock only affects the keyboard, and has no problem displaying and is easy to bypass by switching region. https://t.co/RVRKNQyc1l pic.twitter.com/8eQXambiAQ
— 王博源 Wang Boyuan (@thisboyuan) October 3, 2019
Apple's latest macOS Catalina has the same restriction on the 🇹🇼 Taiwan Flag as iOS: hidden from the emoji picker, but still available to copy and paste pic.twitter.com/oH2p7MO3yb
— Emojipedia 📙 (@Emojipedia) October 7, 2019
MacDailyNews Take: Apple has a nearly impossible tightrope to walk when it comes to balancing business interests in China and issues like Taiwan.