Chinese protestors smashed iPhones because Apple is a symbol of America

Chinese nationalists are smashing their iPhones “in protest of American companies,” according to a report from USA Today reports on Wednesday.

To the right is a picture of those smashed iPhones. 

It’s a bit of a complicated story, but here’s what you need to know: China recently lost a international tribunal ruling over the South China Sea, specifically whether territory belonged to China or the Philippines. 

It’s a matter of national pride. So angry Chinese people took to the streets to protest the United States, which is seen as the global power backing the Philippines in the dispute. 

These protestors reached for the closest American symbols they could find — KFC restaurants and Apple iPhones.

Mashable has a great GIF of students purportedly smashing iPhones in a dorm. 

The Financial Times has a reliable story the protest that has received the most media attention and documentation. Here is how FT described it: 

The protest on Sunday by a few dozen people waving flags and banners in front of a KFC outlet in Laoting county, in Hebei province near the port city of Tianjin, attracted only a small crowd of onlookers, according to photos posted online and quickly deleted.

These protests don’t appear to be a massive movement, according to video and social media from the events, and the FT report. (China seems to be censoring photos from the protests).

But even so, Chinese state-run media has encouraged the protestors to knock it off.

In sum, iPhones aren’t being smashed in huge numbers in China. But it is interesting that Chinese citizens think of Apple as a symbol of America.

China is a key market for Apple, and it faces regulatory questions as the Chinese government has signalled it may be less friendly to the iPhone company to help boost homegrown smartphone companies. 

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