State-owned Chinese news outlets, including China Central Television, have begun a campaign of criticism against Apple, prompting speculation that Beijing is ready to leverage public opinion in an escalating trade conflict with the US.
One article, published online by CCTV, said that Apple had failed to block gambling advertisements as well as pornographic novels transmitted through its messaging app.
Beijing has in the past used state-run media to drum up public opposition to foreign firms in China, most recently targeting South Korean firms, following the deployment of a US anti-missile system in the country.
Shares of Apple are up on Tuesday, ahead of the company’s earnings report, expected to be released after market close in New York.
Apple is one of the American firms most vulnerable to a backlash among China consumers, with the firm generating around 20% of its revenue from the country. Meanwhile, its closest Chinese competitor, Huawei, has grown in popularity with comparable high-end handsets.