After the International Court in Hague ruled that China has no historical claims to the the South China Sea and is breaching the sovereignty of the Philippines by exploring resources, Chinese citizens started showing their support for their country by boycotting American brands like Apple and KFC.
Soon after the landmark decision was reported by national news outlets, photos and videos of smashed up iPhones started showing up on Chinese social media. But what do the United States and Apple have to do with a conflict between China and the Philippines, you may ask. The U.S. is seen as a strong ally of the Philippines and since the Apple iPhone is apparently considered the ultimate American product, it became a prime target for people to direct their anger against.
Shanghaiist reports that the whole iPhone smashing madness began after a number of Chinese patriots started encouraging people to boycott goods from countries supporting the contested ruling to prevent proceeds from their sale from fueling their armies. “Let’s all start boycotting today. Do not buy goods from South Korea, Japan, America and the Philippines. Do not travel there. I cannot fight on the front lines, but I will not be the foolish citizen who provides bullets for the enemy,” one person wrote on Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter.
Such messages were met with skepticism by some web users who challenged these patriotic citizens to destroy their expensive iPhones to show they really mean what they say. And many apparently did just that. Messages like “Take out your iPhone, f you don’t smash it, you aren’t Chinese,” photos of smashed Apple products and even videos of young people destroying their phones with hammers or whatever they could get their hands on started showing up online. It became such a problem that state-owned news agency Xinhua issued a message urging people not to take out their anger on their own property, denouncing the trend as an “irrational” act of patriotism.
Less radical Chinese posted that although they support their country, there is no point in smashing their iPhones since they paid good money for them, but they did promise not to buy the iPhone 7 when it comes out.
Apple was not the only company targeted by angry Chinese, though. KFC, which operates around 5,000 outlets in the Asian country also became a victim of the boycott. One restaurant had a big banner rolled around it, which read “What you eat is KFC. What is lost is the face of our ancestors”.
This is not the first time angry Chinese resorted to destroying products made in countries they resent, as a form of protest. A few years ago, during a similar territorial dispute with Japan over the Diaoyu Islands, people took to the streets to destroy Japanese cars.