As iOS 9 enters beta ahead of its planned release in September, Apple enthusiasts spotted that the Taiwanese flag is now a supported emoji, leading some to speculate that the politically sensitive keyboard feature may incur Beijing’s wrath.
The flag’s inclusion was first spotted by Emojipedia (yes, such a site exists), which tracks emoji on various tech platforms. As any recognition of Taiwan’s sovereignty, however subtle, is usually met with hostility by both the Chinese government and its citizens, many commentators are labelling this as a bold move.
In April, Katy Perry whipped up a mild political storm when she wore the Taiwanese flag during a concert in Taipei. A few years earlier, Angelina Jolie sparked outrage when she referred to director Ang Lee as Taiwanese, implying that there is a difference between the mainland and the renegade province.
According to a recent report, the Greater China area, including Taiwan, became the second largest market for Apple this year, but the subtle relationship between Beijing and Apple has at times hindered the Cupertino-based company’s growth on the mainland.
The Chinese government have in the past shown that they are not shy about taking indirect action against Apple through the media. In 2013 the People’s Daily accused the company’s app store of being full of pornography as part of a scare tactic to dissuade Chinese consumers from buying the latest iPhone.
By Maggie Wong