Why Apple’s red iphone is not special in China

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Apple’s special-edition red iPhone 7 and 7plus goes on sale today in over 40 countries including China. Apple runs a project called Product Red campaign and has already included red Apple accessories, Beats headphones and iPods. This is the first time Apple is selling a special edition of the iphone 7 to support the AIDS charity Red.

Red is a charity that fights against AIDS and was founded by U2 musician Bono and activist Bobby Shriver in 2006. The money raised by Red goes to the Global Fund for HIV/AIDS.

Apple is the largest corporate donor to the fund and said it had generated over $130m (€120m) through the project. A proportion of the money will help fund relief operations in Africa.

In most countries, Apple’s red iPhone is marketed as a special product, whereas in China, it is offered as a colour option rather than a “product”. On Apple’s Chinese – language websites it says “now in red”, however, they don’t mention the cause or product.

This could be seen as an attempt of Chinese politics to interfere with Western companies that are looking to sell their products on the Chinese market.

It is possible that, by using a different name on its Chinese website, Apple tries to avoid the sensitive issue of AIDS, which is still a taboo subject in China.  

The disease has been officially recorded in 1989 and has since spread throughout the country. In spite of the facts, the government keeps denying that there was a problem.

Apple has made no statement on this matter.

Apple had to deal with a number of interferences of the Chinese government over the last couple of months. It forced Apple to shut down its online book and film service, as well as take down the New York Times App from the China App store.

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Jenny Bui

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