Apple, losing the battle with Chinese state-run media, is winning with China’s netizens

Apple, forced to apologize Monday for its earlier response to Chinese media complaints about its alleged warranty problems, appears to be winning the war of words online in that country.

The fierce attacks were based on the premise Apple gave Chinese second-class warranties. They were further inflamed by perceived lukewarm responses from the Cupertino-based company. One editorial in the People’s Daily vowed to “destroy Apple’s unparalleled arrogance.” Some patriotic Chinese loved the idea of the powerful CCTV and People’s Daily, the Communist government’s mouthpiece, and other media in the country sticking it to powerful foreign brands like Apple.

Apple CEO Tim Cook finally responded with a signed letter that provided details of new warranty policies. He also sought to soothe his Chinese critics: “We recognize that some people may have viewed our lack of communication as arrogant or as a sign that we didn’t care about or value their feedback. We sincerely apologize to our customers for any concern or confusion we may have caused.”

Thousands of Chinese netizens mocked the heavy-handed PR assault launched against Apple. In a piece in today’s Financial Times, Beijing-based reporter Jamil Anderlini noted that the world’s most powerful consumer electronics brand is no match for Communist officials. He added: “On the Internet, which the party can corral with the ‘Great Firewall’ but cannot really control, and particularly on Twitter-like Weibo, the backlash against the state and the cheering for Apple was devastating.”

In the midst of the Apple smack-down, a debate over the official Chinese media’s tactics raged online, as the Hong-Kong based South China Morning Post reported.

It quoted one blogger: “CCTV, you are blind to Chinese children being attacked at schools, but you see school massacres abroad; you never criticize fake elections at home, but always report shoe-throwings in foreign parliaments; you don’t pressure officials to disclose their assets at home, but you are so excited when a foreign official gets caught drinking a bottle of wine paid by taxpayers’ money.”





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