China Central Television (CCTV), the monopoly state-run television network, runs a grand evening gala on every March 15, the official consumer rights protection day, showing it is the potent protector of Chinese consumers and the crusader of China against shoddy products and counterfeit commodities.
This year’s CCTV program on March 15 had garnered strong expectation among Chinese consumers in a country where tainted baby formula, hogwash cooking oil, polluted air and water supply, fake internet broadband, spam SMS messages, etc. have driven many Chinese citizens to be always vigilant when buying something.
But when CCTV program selected tech giant Apple, renowned automaker Volkswagen, popular and daring news portal Netease as the bad guys of providing low quality products and services to the Chinese consumers, at least a big portion of Chinese have been disappointed.
Anyway, Apple, Volkswagen, Netease are not flawless, although the problems they cause to the Chinese public are minor ones compared to what Chinese people are most concerned.
The CCTV program should have been a success if not for a celebrity’s foolish mistake on Weibo leaving some clues that the so-called investigative journalism by CCTV was nothing but a choreographed PR offensive against some indocile companies.
Taiwan-American artist Peter Ho’s Weibo provides clue for possible CCTV bashing campaign with help of celebrities
At around 8:20 pm on March 15th, shortly after the CCTV program accusing the world's most popular cell phone producer, Apple Inc, provides discriminative short warranty to Chinese customers compared with that of other countries, several prominent Chinese celebrities, including children's literature writer Zheng Yuanjie
, Taiwanese-American movie star and spokesperson for Samsung Galaxy Peter Ho
, posted anti-Apple remarks on their Weibo accounts.
Zheng Yuanjie (郑渊洁)'s tweet is perfect: "#Actions on 315# Chinese customers choose Apple not only for its high technology but also for its promotion of the values of equality, care, sympathy. But I am shocked to learn that Apple adopts double standard for Chinese customers and customers in developed countries. Paying similar or even higher price for an Apple product, Chinese customers receive less after-sales service than their counterparts in developed nations. I hope what Apple lacks is not conscience. What is your opinion?"
Did CCTV pay celebrities to bash Apple?
But Peter Ho (何润东) made a foolish mistake. A clip of his Weibo tweet shows he added a bizarre message following his Apple-bashing remark: “Post (this message) at around 8:20”, revealing he might have been hired and instructed by CCTV to bash Apple.
“#315isLive# Wow, Apple has so many tricks in its after-sales services. As an Apple fan, I’m hurt. You think this would be acceptable to Steve Jobs? Or to those young people who sold their kidneys (to buy iPads)? It’s really true that big chains treat customers poorly. Post (this message) at around 8:20”, reads his first tweet at 8:26 pm.
Peter Ho later updated his Weibo tweet deleting the trouble-making message “Post around 8:20”, but the updated post aggravated Chinese netizens’ suspicion of the possility that celebrities were paid to bash Apple. Two hours later, Peter Ho deleted the Weibo and posted a new one claiming somebody stole his account and posted the message on his behalf.
'Post at around 8:20' goes viral on Chinese social media
Peter Ho, who has as many as 5 million followers on Weibo, saw his image plummeting in China and himself at the center of mockery on Chinese social media.
@筠子子子子：You should change team because your team is deficient on intelligence. Post at around 22:30.
@笑笑浅浅笑：Can you not explain this incident? You’d better frankly acknowledge it, which is better than any excuse!
@楚陌君：Celebrities should pay more attention to increasing their intellince by drinking Naobaijin (a notorious commercial Chinese nutrition solution). Remember not to copy and paste the instructive message.
@赵勇922：Thank you Apple, you make this time 315 evening gala full of more fun. Thank you CCTV editors for choosing only the service providers of Apple; Thank you @留几手 for your using of iPad; Most of all, thank you artist He Rundong (Peter Ho) for leaving the clue when not using Weiboyi (a competitor of Weibo). The next time when you organize a hacking gang, remember to entrust to a more enforcing team, hahah….
斗牛士：Oh, CCTV has invited so many agents.
Kaifu Lee confirms CCTV’s tactics of rallying celebrities in guiding public opinion
“Post Around 8:20” has gone viral on Sina Weibo, Chinese news portal and other social media within hours. Internet users took to calling the implicated celebrities the “820 Party” and criticized them for selling themselves. Many were particularly upset by the implication of well-known author of children’s literature and critic of the government, Zheng Yuanjie, who posted anti-Apple comments at around 8:20 but denied he received payment or goods to do so.
Former Google China CEO Kaifu Lee
confirmed CCTV’s tactics of rallying celebrities to go against Apple and other targeted bad companies. But he expressed his suspicion that the Weibo celebrities were paid by CCTV in bashing Apple program.
“Did the verified big names receive money for tweeting? It is simply no, CCTV invited several Sina Weibo big names to post Weibo on certain incident at certain time point. It is just so and it is impossible that CCTV paid 100,000 yuan for that. I know this because they also invited me, but I gave my reply to them: if the incident is concerning Chinese livelihood (air, water and food safety) I will surely post my comments, otherwise no. And I did not”, says Kaifu Lee.
CCTV has long been disliked by Chinese for biased reporting
The 8:20 incident going viral is actually reflective of the Chinese public’s detest of the monopoly state-run broadcaster CCTV which has been long dubbed as ministry of truth, anti-universal values pioneer, brain-washing machine. And the incident will surely be a public relations nightmare for the celebrities and CCTV.
A popular comment says: “The largest difference between Spring Festival Gala and the 315 evening show is so: you can pay for being shown on the former and you can pay for not being shown on the other”.
”CCTV talks about cracking down on low quality and counterfeit products, actually it provides the lowest quality service and cheat its clients everyday”, a Chinese netizen comments.
Even mainland based Taiwanese actress Annie Yi Nengjing
made her comments raising questions over its selection of Apple as the 315 target:
"Does apple taste bad or dead pig taste bad? Is it more difficult to manage apple or baby formula? Is apple or the air more black? If an apple has not been washed clean, is it the apple or the water dirtier? There is a viewpoint called losing focus in the world, anyway losing focus is OK, since something needs to be focused has been intentionally blurred".