Apple in China

Apple in China  On March 15, CCTV hosted a  television special for International Consumer Rights day on (what they claimed to be) some of the worst companies for consumers in China.  One of the companies on that list was Apple.  This article summarizes the issue while this one offers some analysis on why CCTV might have chosen to highlight Apple.  CCTV argued that Apple discriminates against Chinese consumers by not offering the same service they would in other countries such as the United States or Australia.

Apple was the only company out of the ones named that initially tried to deny the accusations.  CCTV also called out Volkswagen for having faulty gear boxes in their cars but Volkswagen immediately apologized and claimed that they would start working to fix the problem right away.  “(Volkswagen) understands that having the support of the media and the government, not just the consumers, is important to continuing success in the country.”

Even though I think that some or even all the issues the second article mentions could be true,  I think one issue that it doesn’t bring up is the possibility that the Chinese government just wanted to knock Apple down a peg and assert themselves.  Apple one of the most famous American companies in the world and, despite it being earned, one of the cockiest.  As China’s economy continues to grow, they will want to assert themselves more and more.  The Chinese government could have simply wanted them to show some respect to China which they eventually did when they apologized.  This whole situation, however, could have been much better if Apple had just apologized, fixed their issues, and carried on.  They had to learn that they can’t fight the Chinese government.

I find all of this interesting for three reasons: First, no one actually knows why CCTV targeted Apple on their Consumer Rights program.  It’s all been speculation and I find it interesting that no one can really know for sure.  Second, this highlights the differences between the United States’ style of business and China’s.  Companies in China have to please the government just as much as they have to please the consumers themselves.  The Chinese government most likely keeps foreign companies under a microscope waiting for them to slip up.  China right now seems very eager to take any opportunity to prove themselves. Finally, this is a sign that America can no longer just walk into China and do what it wants.  They have to play by China’s rules and not by the rules they set out for themselves.  The companies that will succeed in the future will be the ones that can adapt to the countries they operate in instead of forcing their own culture into every location they work.  These kinds of issues are the reason I want to learn more about Chinese Business Culture and Ethics and work with a business in Beijing.  There is still a lot to be learned about how to adapt to China.  It will be more important to understand their culture as we do more business there and as China does more business here.