The state-run China Central Television (CCTV) has blasted a series of Western companies—including Apple and Volkswagen—doing business in China as part of what it calls an ongoing “corporate malpractice exposé”—but has ignored widespread defective Chinese products sold in America which have actually killed people.
In a show broadcast last Friday, CCTV said that Chinese customers were not given the same post-sales service from Apple as it gave to users in other markets.
The report also said that the direct shift gearbox (DSG) transmission, a long-standing issue for Volkswagen, was causing cars to speed up or slow down during driving.
Volkswagen, which plans to almost double production capacity in China to 4 million cars in the next five years, promised action in response to the “3:15” show, whose name refers to the date of World Consumer Rights Day.
“We take this report very seriously and we will quickly make contact with our consumers to resolve the issue,” it said on its official Chinese Weibo microblog.
The television show has named and shamed a number of prominent Western companies in the past, hitting the sales and stocks of its targets in a retail market that is forecast to be the world’s largest in three years.
Last year “3:15,” one of the most widely watched programs in China, singled out fast food giant McDonald’s and French hypermarket chain Carrefour SA for alleged food safety violations.
The companies were forced to apologize and their shares slumped as China’s army of half a billion microbloggers unleashed their anger online.
US retailer Walmart Stores and Korea’s Kunho Tire have also previously been blasted by state TV on Consumer Rights Day.
In December, a separate state television report triggered a food safety scare at Yum Brands restaurants, cutting its China same-restaurant sales by 20 percent in January and February.
According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Chinese manufacturers make more than half of all products recalled on health and safety grounds each year in America.
The long list of faulty products included Chinese-made highchairs whose seat backs failed, steam cleaners that burned their users, bikes whose front-wheel forks broke, saunas that overheated, illuminated exit signs that stopped working when commercial power failed, dune buggies whose seat belts broke on impact and coffee makers that overheated and started fires.
It also included loosely knotted soccer goal nets that entrapped and strangled a child and a toy chest whose poorly supported lid fell on a toddler’s neck and killed him, according to CPSC filings.
Even Chinese-manufactured drywalls, installed in new homes in America, have been shown to contain toxic substances. It is notoriously difficult to sue Chinese companies in China for malfeasance, with one international lawyer describing it as akin to “suing Michael Jordan in Chicago.”
Meanwhile, the CCTV show has stirred up vitriol online in China. Within an hour of the broadcast, Apple had been mentioned 50,000 times on popular web microblog Weibo, China’s version of Twitter which has more than half a billion users.