Chinese netizens divided over Apple's controversial braided customer-service image
Published: Sep 18, 2023 05:43 PM Updated: Sep 18, 2023 05:39 PM


Chinese netizens recently expressed mixed feelings toward Apple's braided customer service image, which some accused of being "disrespectful toward China." 

On the Chinese social media platform Sina Weibo, a topic under the hashtag "how to interpret the image of Apple China's braided customer service" has generated 47 million reads and over 4,300 discussions on Monday.

The incident occurred after the official website of Apple in China recently published a photo of an Apple Watch Specialist who appears to have an East Asian appearance and a braided hairstyle. 

Chinese netizens reacted with mixed views on the image. According to an online poll voted on by 173,000 netizens, 118,000 of them voted that they are uncomfortable with the image, while another 54,000 said they feel alright with it. 

Some Chinese netizens have accused Apple of "maliciously insulting China." A Chinese netizen known as Chishang complained that if the braids are not specified, they can indeed lead to stereotypes and be seen as smearing Chinese people. 

Other netizens believe that "there's no need to be too sensitive."

A Chinese netizen known as meilibaobei said: "I was initially a bit angry, but when I opened Apple's official website in Vietnam and saw the same picture, I felt that it might not be intentional."

A source knowledgeable of the situation also told the Global Times that the individual was a female Apple employee in California.  

According to, the image of the customer service representative on Apple's official website is not only present on the Chinese site, but also on the official websites of other countries such as the US, Japan and South Korea. 

Other netizens complain that the Chinese market is big enough for Apple to not disrespect Chinese consumers. 

According to data released by the global market research firm TechInsights, China became the largest market for iPhones globally in the second quarter of 2023, surpassing the US for the first time in history. Based on its global shipment report, China accounted for 24 percent of all iPhone shipments in the second quarter of 2023, while the US market accounted for 21 percent.

Regarding this controversial incident, an Apple customer service representative responded that the company has received feedback and takes it seriously. They suggest that the public wait for its official response on the website.

Hu Xijin, renowned media commentator and former editor-in-chief of the Global Times, called on the public to wait for Apple's response. He suggested that Western companies be cautious in their promotions and avoid using content that may be misunderstood by Chinese consumers.

He emphasized the importance of defending national dignity and resisting malicious provocations, while not being overly sensitive. "In ambiguous situations with multiple interpretations, we should adopt a rational attitude and have positive communication," he wrote.

Global Times