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How The Hong Kong Protests Are Landing Companies In Hot Water

Brett Hershman

Tiffany & Co. (NYSE: TIF) is in the spotlight amid accusations that it bowed to political pressure from China.

The luxury jeweler removed an Oct. 7 tweet showing a woman covering one eye, leading Chinese consumers to accuse the company of supporting Hong Kong protesters.

After a young woman was hit by a projectile during demonstrations in August in Hong Kong, eye patches became a symbol of the protests.

The advertisement in question showed Chinese model Sun Feifei sporting a Tiffany ring on her right hand as it covered her right eye.

Tiffany’s said in a statement that the advertisement was created in May before the protests and was “in no way intended to be a political statement of any kind.”

"We regret that it may be perceived as such, and in turn have removed the image from our digital and social media channels and will discontinue its use effective immediately." 

Other Companies In Hot Water

The NBA’s recent preseason games in China kicked off a debate over whether the league is appeasing communist China in order to maintain its lucrative partnerships within the country.

Activision Blizzard, Inc. (NASDAQ: ATVI) has also been pulled into the Hong Kong controversy after recently banning a professional esports gamer and withholding his prize money after he expressed solidarity with anti-government protesters in Hong Kong.

The esports player, Chung Ng Wai, wore a mask similar to those being worn by some Kong Kong protesters after winning his match in the Hearthstone tournament in Taiwan, and said “Liberate Hong Kong! Revolution of our age.”

The company has since reduced its penalty for the player. 

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) has also come under fire after removing an app from its app store that protesters in Hong Kong have used to track police movements, according to Reuters.

The app, HKmap.live, violated Apple's rules and allowed people to ambush police, Apple said — and made it possible for criminals to victimize residents when police aren't around. 

Earlier this week, President Donald Trump said China has indicated that negotiations over an initial trade deal are advancing, and said he expects both countries could sign an agreement at a meeting in November. 

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