Mm mm Apple
There are some phrases that attract Western journalists like a rat to a sticky trap: “protest,” “60-mile traffic jam,” or “free beer,” for example. But the romance that’s really worthy of a Harlequin cover is that of Apple’s (working title: Forbidden iTouch). This week, however, America’s sweetheart unveiled a weighty (27-page) report that gave a glimpse of its darker side, including mandatory pregnancy screenings, improper handling of chemicals and child labor at its Chinese suppliers. From here on out, the company said it would permit third-party monitoring of its suppliers through the Fair Labor Association. Most Americans may revere Apple, but the Chinese attitude falls somewhat short of that. Exhibit A: Apple’s Sanlitun store in Beijing got an old-fashioned egging last weekend from migrants who had somehow escaped being “civilized” by the bands of unemployed Fuwa and Haibao that now roam the country. Perhaps all this has something to do with the brand’s efforts to serve China’s bajillion wannabe iPhone owners through a grand total of – wait for it – five stores. No wonder the Chinese are feeling a little jilted.
Bad boy awards
Certain things are notorious. US rapper Chris Wallace, a.k.a. “Notorious B.I.G.,” was by definition notorious. Idi Amin was notorious. Anyone with the swag to sport double denim is notorious. Now add to this distinguished list Taobao, upon which the US government officially bequeathed the honorific title “the notorious” in a ceremony loosely modeled on the MTV Video Music Awards. The Middle Kingdom also took home a special mention in the “Gold Digger of the Year” category for its PDA with Iran, which China likes for its crazy big petro-chests charming personality, but the US has been angry at them ever since Persian king Cambysis II had the gumption to call himself the “king of [all] countries.” China’s third and final prize of the night was in the “Fantasies” category, thanks to its just-released 710-page climate change report. Technically a review of the movie The Day After Tomorrow by China’s environment minister Zhou Shengxian (“it kind of freaked me out”), the report portrays a future China with shrinking rivers, falling agricultural output and public solicitations by Kevin Costner to use the entire country as a set for Waterworld II. Zhou argued that while countries which choose to rent themselves out for the night might be notorious, others should not interfere in China’s domestic affairs.