People's Daily questions Apple's earthquake donations

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 July, 2013, 11:37am
UPDATED : Thursday, 25 July, 2013, 3:54am

Tech giant Apple is refusing to reveal how much of a promised 50 million yuan (HK$63.2 million) donation it has made to aid victims of the earthquake in Sichuan province, according to a Chinese newspaper.

In what is the latest public dig at the iPhone maker from a mainland mouthpiece, the People's Daily accused Apple of being unwilling to confirm how much of the donation had been made. 

"Apple was not willing to reveal the progress in the donations," China's Communist Party's official newspaper wrote, singling out the maker of computers, tablets and mobiles among 13 companies which have each pledged more than 15 million yuan to the reconstruction of the disaster stricken-zone.

Similarly, when the South China Morning Post contacted Apple on Wednesday, a spokesperson avoided answering a direct question asking how much of the 50 million yuan it had paid. 

It said it was continuing to work with international and local NGOs to support relief efforts and added that it had already provided tens of thousands of families with hygiene kits and counselling for children - but did not specify how much that aid amounted to.

The 7.0 earthquake on April 20 was the strongest to hit China in half a decade. It killed at least 193 people and injured more than 11,000.

Companies had raced to outbid each other in donations. Taiwanese manufacturer Foxconn, a maker of iPhone parts for Apple, pledged 50 million yuan. Samsung, Apple's main competitor, pledged 60 million.

JDB Group, a Hong Kong-based beverage maker, donated 100 million yuan. Kweichow Moutai, the nation's biggest liquor maker, offered 20 million. Sukanto Tanoto, an Indonesian billionaire of Chinese descent, made the largest individual donation of 20 million yuan.

The news report comes as yet another critical article by the party paper against the American computer maker.

In March, the paper vowed to destroy Apple's "unparalleled arrogance" in providing second-rate customer service to China.

It's "swaggering arrogance" must have originated from the "traditional superiority enjoyed by westerners", the paper said at the time.

Apple later apologised, but the People's Daily continued its critical articles. In May, it accused the Cupertino-based company of tax evasion and spreading pornography.

Netizens mostly sided with Apple in this case. "You're right to worry that officials would embezzle donations, don't listen to Braindamage Daily!", wrote one. "Donating is voluntary," wrote another.

The article conceded that the company had already provided 26,000 hygiene kits and would look into providing further aid, an unnamed person with the China Foundation for Poverty told the People's Daily.

The article also singled out Geely, China's biggest car maker, for not transferring the entire 20 million yuan it had offered.