Apple has apologized to Chinese consumers after government media attacked its repair policies for two weeks in a campaign that reeked of economic nationalism.
A statement Apple posted in Chinese on its Web site on Monday said the complaints had prompted “deep reflection” and persuaded the company of the need to revamp its repair policies, boost communication with Chinese consumers and strengthen oversight of authorized resellers.
State broadcaster CCTV and the Chinese Communist Party’s flagship newspaper, the People’s Daily, had led the charge against the company. They accused Apple of arrogance, greed and “throwing its weight around” and portrayed it as just the latest Western firm to exploit the Chinese consumer.
However, the attacks quickly backfired and were mocked by the increasingly sophisticated Chinese consumers who revere Apple and its products. State-run media also inadvertently revived complaints over shoddy service by Chinese companies.
Nonetheless, Apple responded with an apology from chief executive officer Tim Cook.
“We’ve come to understand through this process that because of our poor communication, some have come to feel that Apple’s attitude is arrogant and that we don’t care about or value feedback from the consumer,” Cook’s Chinese statement said, as translated by The Associated Press. “For the concerns and misunderstandings passed on to the consumer, we express our sincere apologies.”
Although Apple enjoys strong support from Chinese consumers, the vehemence of the attacks and the importance of the Chinese market appeared to have persuaded the firm to appear contrite.
The People’s Daily ran an editorial on Wednesday last week headlined “Strike down Apple’s incomparable arrogance.”
“Here we have the Western person’s sense of superiority making mischief,” the newspaper said. “If there’s no risk in offending the Chinese consumer, and it also makes for lower overheads, then why not?”
Chinese observers accused the People’s Daily of gross hypocrisy and pointed out that it had maintained a stony silence when Chinese firms were implicated over food safety, pollution and other scandals. Meanwhile, CCTV was shamed when it emerged that celebrities had been recruited to blast Apple on Weibo in what it claimed was a grassroots campaign.
Business magazine Caijing said its readers identified a long list of abusers, including state banks that lend to those with political connections while stiffing ordinary savers with low rates on deposits and a government oil company that sets gas prices and other rates as it sees fit.