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Apple apologizes after Chinese media attacks

Apple, whose stores include this one in Beijing,

Apple, whose stores include this one in Beijing, has been hit with bad press led by the ruling party’s People’s Daily. Chinese consumers, however, are reportedly unfazed by the negative campaign. (March 29, 2013) Credit: Getty

Apple issued an apology to Chinese consumers Monday after government media attacked its repair policies for two weeks in a campaign that to some observers suggested economic nationalism.

A statement Apple posted in Chinese on its website 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 ruling party's flagship newspaper, People's Daily, had led the charge against the iconic American company. They accused Apple of arrogance, greed and "throwing its weight around" and portrayed it as just the latest Western company to exploit the Chinese consumer.

The attacks, however, were quickly 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 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. "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 Apple to smooth its relations with Chinese consumers and authorities.

People's Daily ran an editorial last Wednesday headlined "Strike down Apple's incomparable arrogance." "Here we have the Western person's sense of superiority making mischief," the newspaper wrote.

Chinese observers accused People's Daily of hypocrisy for maintaining a stony silence when Chinese companies were implicated over food safety, pollution and other scandals.

Consumers thus far seem unfazed by the state media's attacks on Apple Inc.

Perusing the wares at an Apple reseller in Beijing's tony China World mall, recent college graduate Zeng Lu said, "It's great to see Chinese consumers standing up for their rights, but it's ridiculous for the People's Daily to get involved. They should be criticizing state companies instead."

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