When Apple released iOS 13.1.1 in late September, it appears to have dropped the Taiwan flag from the emoji keyboard for users that have their iOS region set to Hong Kong or Macau, as noticed by the blog Hiraku and later corroborated by Hong Kong Free Press, The Verge reported.
The Taiwan flag emoji isn’t completely gone — apparently, it will still display in apps and on websites, and you can even still “type” it by either typing “Taiwan” in English and selecting it from Apple’s next-word predictions or by copying and pasting it.
Regardless, the removal is being treated by activists and pro-Hong Kong supporters as another attempt from mainland China to establish sovereignty over areas it considers under its control.
Because of Taiwan’s political status, the People’s Republic of China considers any mention of or allusion to its independence as an offense against its sovereignty.
The change comes in the midst of anti-government protests in Hong Kong, which have been ongoing for months and only continue to intensify as the Chinese government has taken measures to crackdown on the movement.
The heightened tensions have had all sorts of ripple effects on American businesses, too, as companies fearful of being shown the door by one of the world’s most economically influential countries are bowing to pressure from China to stay away from politically sensitive topics.