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China attacks Apple again? Official press agency says students owe 160m yuan in iPhone debt

o Karen Haslam
22.03.2013 kl 08:10 | Macworld U.K.

Yet another negative report about Apple has come out of China today, with an article claiming that Chinese students are getting in debt due to their desire to purchase iPhones.

 

Yet another negative report about Apple has come out of China today, with an article claiming that Chinese students are getting in debt due to their desire to purchase iPhones.

The report in Xinhua (the official press agency of the People's Republic of China) claims that Over 20,000 college students have taken high-interest loans to buy "mostly Apple devices".

The data relates to the Chinese city of Wuhan where between January 2012 and the end of February 2013, students have applied for loans with a total value of 160 million yuan (about £17m, $25.76m), according to Home Credit China.

"About 90 percent of the credit was used to buy Apple products, such as iPhones and iPads, and other high-end electronic products", said Liu Mingwei, Wuhan regional manager with HC China.

We wonder how the loan company knows exactly what the money has been spent on.

The popularity of the brand is evident, however. Wuhan University Student Yu told Xinhua: "Apple products are a common topic or a particular community in campus. I used to feel isolated while they were discussing and playing with iPhones or iPads."

Yu bought an iPhone with a loan.

She claims she was spurred on in the "heat of the moment during a marketing campaign by a salesman of HC China, but felt regret afterward," according to the report.

Home Credit China has an annual interest rates of up to 47.12 percent on a 12-month-term loan. The company revealed to Xinhua that is has "lost touch with about 100" students who have taken on loans. The report states that there are 1 million students in Wuhan.

China, censorship and control

Earlier this week we reported that Apple had come under fire from Chinese state run television which ran a programme accusing the company of unfairly treating Chinese customers. In conjunction with the programme it appears that a celebrity was asked to send an Apple-slamming 'tweet' on the Chinese equivalent of Twitter.

There have been suggestions that the Chinese government is trying to discredit Apple because it is uncomfortable about its lack of control when it comes to the iPhone. The Chinese government is known for its tight control over what its citizens can access on the internet. Smartphones played a significant role in last year's Arab Spring and no doubt the Chinese government is concerned about these devices being used to spread dissent.

Apple isn't the only company to have been targeted in China recently. China recently alleges that Google has discriminated against local firms over the use of its mobile operating system.

Given this situation Apple may be wise to ignore calls to create a budget iPhone for the so called emerging markets, of which China is one.

Follow Karen Haslam on Twitter / Follow MacworldUK on Twitter

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Keywords: Hardware Systems  Consumer Electronics  
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