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Chinese protesters smashing Apple iPhones over UN tribunal South China Sea decision

Chinese nationalists are reportedly taking to boycotts and destruction of emblematic U.S. consumer goods, like the iPhone, to protest an unfavorable UN body decision over disputed territory in the South and East China Sea.




Videos circulating on social media depict protesters wearing patriotic apparel and smashing iPhones in protest. China's ruling Communist Party spoke through the People's Daily newspaper and demanded "rational patriotism" in response to the protests, which appear to be mostly undertaken by college-aged citizens.

"This is not the right way to express patriotism," the state-run Xinhua news agency wrote on Wednesday. The slightly more independent China Daily called the device smashing "jingoism that does a disservice to the spirit of devotion to the nation."



"The Chinese public, as optimistic and positive as they are, are deeply patriotic and nationalistic, especially people who are younger," said James Roy of the research firm China Market Research Group. Apple is one of the brands that is "just very closely associated with the United States, and you are seeing people picking the closest symbol they can think of to demonstrate against," according to Roy.

A counter-movement has also started. Some individuals are posting photos on the same social media outlets with their iPhones, or a bucket of chicken from KFC, with one individual addressing "patriotic hooligans" suggesting they would "take out" anyone harassing them.

Apple has had significant problems in China, despite relying on the country to boost sales. Apple has lost exclusivity on the use of the "iPhone" trademark in China, and must share it with Beijing-based leather products maker Xintong Tiandi Technology.

Additionally, under new Chinese regulations, Apple will have to track the identities of App Store users while flagging anything that might violate the country's censorship laws. Developers must be verified, and apps will have to be screened by the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television prior to publication. The simplified approval process is said to take up to 20 days, and much longer in other instances.

The UN case riling protesters involves a dispute with the Philippines over a series of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea. A ruling last week by a UN tribunal found that despite massive resource gathering in the area, the Chinese government has no legitimate claim over the contested islands, or for a wider area of the South China Sea.

The Philippines have refused further negotiations outside of the Hague's ruling, setting the stage for further protests.