Apple promises donations to support Sichuan after largest earthquake since 2017

Global tech giant Apple has joined dozens of Chinese enterprises in pledging donations to earthquake recovery efforts in the landlocked province of Sichuan in Southwestern China. The aid comes after a 6.8-magnitude earthquake struck on 5 September in Luding County in Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan.

This is the largest earthquake in the region since 2017, which has so far claimed at least 74 lives, according to the latest death tolls on 7 September. In the aftermath of the disaster, Tim Cook, CEO of Apple posted through his personal account on China’s Twitter-like social media Weibo on 7 September, expressing condolences to all families and communities affected by the earthquake, and saying “Apple will donate to support ongoing relief and rebuilding efforts.”

It is understood that a total of 1.1 billion RMB ($157.7 million) has already been donated by state-owned companies. Apple’s move is to add to the list of continuous funding injected by private enterprises, although the exact amount and a timeline for donations are yet to be confirmed. Donors so far include Chinese tech firms Alibaba, ByteDance, and Tencent with each of them contributing 5 million RMB ($716,804).

Also sending financial aid are Chinese electronics makers Lenovo, Huawei, and Xiaomi, e-commerce platform Pinduoduo, EV maker NIO, and Internet celebrities including Xinba, a viral live streamer on Chinese video sharing app Kuaishou and emerging Douyin (Chinese TikTok) star Dongfang Zhenxuan, an e-commerce creation by former Chinese private education unicorn New Oriental, with donations varying from 500,000 RMB ($71,680) to 3 million RMB ($430,082).

Apple’s kind gesture was soon applauded by Chinese netizens, with the announcement hashtag garnering more than 130 million views on Weibo within a few hours. However, public appreciation was mixed with speculative views, due partly to Apple’s iPhone 14 launch event, which coincidently falls on 7 September and 8 September in China, resulting in some suggesting that the announcement was made in an attempt to direct public attention to its new release. And Apple’s opacity on its donation details has further fuelled the speculation.

However, some Internet users quickly jumped to Apple’s defence with evidence showing a track record of the company’s charitable footprints in China, including ones after devastating earthquakes that struck Sichuan’s Wenchuan in 2008, Ya’an in 2013 and Jiuzhaigou in 2017. Argument has also been made that “businesses should not be morally kidnapped in charitable activities and goodwill should not be judged by the amount of money.”


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