by Patrick Lozada
Image credit: Nelson Wu.
Last week, China’s state broadcaster lambasted Apple in an investigative report on the CCTV program 3.15, alleging anti-Chinese bias. From the CCTV report:
Isn’t [Apple] here earning Chinese people’s money? Outside China, they will give you a new back cover for free [when they replace your device] but they won’t change Chinese back covers for you. Why are Chinese consumers [treated as] less than others? This is very unfair to Chinese consumers.
This was followed up by various celebrities on Weibo sending out messages lambasting the company, which have since been exposed to be part of government astroturfing.
This week, Communist party mouthpiece, the People’s Daily published an editorial titled ‘Let’s strike away Apple’s unparalleled arrogance’, that was as subtle as that headline suggests.
To add injury to insult, Shanghai Daily reported on Wednesday that local ZhiZhen Internet Technology Co. filed a lawsuit alleging that Apple based the popular voice assistant Siri on its own Xiaoi chat robot system, known nowhere for nothing.
Perpetually boy-who-cried-death-of-the-Chinese-state Gordon Chang sees a pattern: a WAR on Apple. In Forbes, Chang writes:
The truth is that Beijing, despite its trade obligations, will do its best to cripple foreign companies. Its tactics can be subtle or vicious as the occasion dictates. Its attacks may not work, but it is nonetheless predatory in intent.
It looks like China’s one-party state has just declared war on Apple. Its first attack failed. It will not give up.
I think Gordon is onto something*, but myopic in his focus. China isn’t declaring war on Apple, rather Apple is a skirmish in a larger fight to pick favorites in the mobile computing industry. Authorities have also targeted Google’s Android operating system, saying that “the country is too dependent on Android.”
What China is really trying to do is choose winners in its domestic telecom industry, and its current, slightly unlikely favorite is Samsung. The South Korean mobile phone giant has pursued an unusually aggressive policy of localization in China; 70 percent of its heads of operations in China are Chinese.
Tea Leaf Nation reports that Chinese company Hammer Technologies, (the CEO of Hammer Technologies, Captain Hammer, purportedly has links to the military) has released its new long-awaited mobile operating system, Smartisan OS. In a recent speech, company executive Luo Yonghao made said Hammer’s “objective is to kill off Apple eventually” (ask Steve Ballmer how that worked out for Microsoft).