Apple now supports the Taiwan flag emoji, risking a backlash from China

Bottom row, center. (Apple)

Apple’s newest emoji could be a politically sensitive one.

Along with the flags of Chad, Greenland, and Vatican City, the latest version of Apple’s emoji keyboard for iPhone and iPads includes the flag of Taiwan, which China—Apple’s fastest-growing market—regards as a renegade breakaway province.

The Taiwan flag appears in the newest developer beta of iOS 9, which is scheduled to be released to the public in September. It was first spotted by Emojipedia, which tracks emoji on various tech platforms.

The Beijing government and many Chinese citizens fiercely object to any reference to Taiwan’s sovereignty. China protested to the US government in January when Taiwan dared to raise a flag above its de facto embassy in Washington, and singer Katy Perry raised hackles among mainland Chinese fans when she wore the Taiwanese flag as a cape during an April performance in Taipei.

Greater China, which includes Taiwan, became Apple’s second-biggest market this year, but the company’s occasionally prickly relationship with Beijing has threatened its growth prospects on the mainland.

If you want to use all the world’s emoji flags, download Quartz’s custom keyboard for iPhones. (It won’t include Taiwan until Apple officially supports that emoji in iOS 9.)

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