China Accuses Apple (AAPL) of Lacking Openness, Report

The Wall Street Journal reports that less than a week after China’s state run TV network, CCTV slammed Apple (AAPL) over allegations that the company’s warranty and repair policies in that country are significantly worse than in other countries, a newspaper known as the Chinese government’s ‘traditional mouthpiece’ publicly accused the iPhone maker for declining journalists’ requests for interviews, and called a statement Apple had previously issued, claiming the warranties it offers in China are roughly the same worldwide, “empty and self-praising”.

The front-page article of “The People’s Daily” was accompanied by a cartoon with a figure representing the tech giant, saying, “Apple statement: empty.”

According to another article from the same newspaper, Apple offers a global warranty period of only one year when the Chinese law states that warranties on computer sales must be at least two years.

Ge Youshan, a lawyer specializing in consumer rights at the Beijing Lawyers Association, said, “Foreign companies in China should obey Chinese law. If their clauses are better than Chinese regulations, that’s OK. But in this case, Apple’s warranty clauses apparently violate China’s laws.”

The Journal notes that these recent incidents with the state-run media outlets reflect China’s way of defending its companies from being crowded out by foreign competitors, rather than some specific reflection on Apple itself.

[via WSJ]: “Though it can be difficult to predict government behavior based on news coverage in China’s state-run media, analysts said the string of attacks suggested that the government is considering doing more to encourage the growth of domestic smartphone companies and eat away at dominant foreign companies, such as Apple.”

However, Jeremy Goldkorn, director of Danwei.org, which researches Chinese media told the Journal that the criticism also means “that in establishment circles, there is a level of acceptance that it is OK to go against this company, which can mean there’s trouble down the road.”

In an another sign that the tide is turning against western companies in China, the Journal notes that the Chinese government has intensified the criticism of foreign companies over the past year, in recent months targeting Germany’s Volkswagen and the KFC chain of U.S.-based Yum Brands Inc.

With China’s market becoming an ever-bigger part of Apple’s global operation, it will be interesting to see how Cupertino responds to this targeted criticism, considering China is Apple’s second largest market, after the US.

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