Apple got into the Chinese regime’s crosshairs recently with its new iPhone launch.
During the Sept. 12 release event for the tech giant’s latest line of smartphones, the iPhone XS, Apple’s senior vice-president of worldwide marketing, Phil Schiller, displayed a projection screen on which it showed flags representing the company’s various market around the world.
The screen included “China,” “Hong Kong,” and “Taiwan” separately—much to the ire of Beijing and its state media.
That is because the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) regards Taiwan, a self-ruled island with its own democratically-elected government, as a part of its territory. The CCP is particularly sensitive about any indications that Taiwan is a separate, independent entity from mainland China. In recent months, Beijing has threatened international firms to conform to its sovereign claims, forcing them to apologize if they recognize Taiwan. Most aggressively in May, the Chinese regime ordered 44 international airlines to change all their references to Taiwan as part of China, or face certain consequences. Many airlines complied.
After news about the Apple projection spread on social media, the Chinese regime’s state broadcaster, China Central Television (CCTV), and the state-run tabloid, Global Times, slammed Apple for not referring to Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau as a part of China.
Hong Kong and Macau are former British and Portuguese colonies that were returned to Chinese sovereignty in 1997 and 1999 respectively, but enjoy relative autonomy due to their governments separate from Beijing.
“Apple, what are you trying to say at your release event?” the Global Times questioned in a Sept. 13 article. The newspaper urged Apple to write “China” in front of the references to Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Meanwhile, CCTV’s report threatened Apple that it may encounter “unnecessary political and legal troubles” hereafter.
But some Chinese netizens left comments saying that the Global Times and other CCP state-run media were unreasonable and simply wanted to stir up trouble.
“Apple is referring to markets, not countries or regions,” one netizen wrote, saying that the Chinese regime was being too sensitive.
Another questioned why there is no “China” placed in front of the “Shanghai municipal government” or other municipalities that are directly governed by the central authorities; under the CCP system, Shanghai, Beijing, Chongqing, and other metropolises are classified as “directly controlled cities.”
Netizens joked that the CCP was perhaps secretly advocating for the independence of Shanghai or other cities.