All the Apple fans I know were deliriously happy when Apple finally opened a Hong Kong edition of its iTunes store. Previously all HK had was the App Store. Now we can rent and buy movies and buy music locally and legally without having to jump through hoops of fire to do so.
Apple did mess up one bit though. According to Cult of Mac (quoting from the Wall Street Journal), in those places where the store is listing Chinese music using western characters, they’re using romanized Mandarin words rather than Cantonese.
For example, the popular Cantonese pop song titled “Autumn Wind, Autumn Rain” would be written and pronounced as qiu feng qiu yu using Mandarin pinyin. Though there is no broadly accepted official system for rendering Cantonese using the Roman alphabet, a transliteration for Cantonese speakers would be closer to cou feng cou yu.
If you’re not in Hong Kong, you’re probably thinking to yourself, “So what? BFD?” But in Hong Kong, it is a big fucking deal. It’s not just that Apple is selling Canto-pop with Mandarin names. People in HK are unhappy about many things these days and one of them is any business that seems to be catering to Mainlanders at the expense of locals. This means that shops that have signs in Simplified Chinese rather than Traditional often find themselves the targets of protesters and boycotts. Any sales or privileges targeting Mainland Chinese and excluding local people also get met with a similar reaction. All of this stuff is extremely well publicized – in the news media as well as on social media.
This sort of carelessness always leaves me stunned. And yet … most people in western countries who have never traveled to Asia (and some who have) don’t even realize that a difference exists, that there are more than one Chinese dialect or writing system. And yet, one would think, that a global company like Apple would be savvy enough to hire people who know and understand these differences. Except that ignorant managers can’t make informed decisions when hiring, can they?