The hot issue of poor working conditions at Chinese factories engulfing Apple picked up steam last week when activist organization Change.org began circulating petitions and handing them to Apple employees at its Grand Central Store.\n\tNow Apple hopes to staunch the controversy, announcing today that the Fair Labor Association will conduct audits of Apple\u2019s overseas suppliers, including Foxconn factories in Shenzhen and Chengdu, China. Foxconn was the target of a New York Times article that brought the issue into the public spotlight.\n\t\u201cWe believe that workers everywhere have the right to a safe and fair work environment, which is why we\u2019ve asked the FLA to independently assess the performance of our largest suppliers,\u201d Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement. \u201cThe inspections now underway are unprecedented in the electronics industry, both in scale and scope.\u201d\n\tThe phrase, \u201cunprecedented in the electronics industry,\u201d is an especially important one considering that virtually all major consumer electronics makers outsource manufacturing to China, such as Hewlett-Packard and Dell. Of course, all sorts of non-electronics goods come from China and land in U.S. shopping malls, too.\n\tIndustry watchers are rightfully asking, Why is Apple being singled out?\n\tMy take: I feel Apple should be applauded for its efforts to improve working conditions in China, not vilified. The New York Times portrayal of Foxconn, for instance, shows just how far China\u2019s factories have improved thanks to American companies\u2019 investments over the years. (Also, I argued that Americans are fixated on price, not value, which has basically forced U.S. companies to seek cheap overseas labor.)\n\tNot everyone shares my views. My respected colleague, Bill Snyder, called for a boycott of Apple products for China\u2019s human rights abuse. More importantly he tackles head on why Apple should be singled out.\n\t\u201cApple has become an iconic American company, whose brand equity is constantly boosted by millions and millions of dollars of free publicity,\u201d Snyder writes, adding, \u201cWhat's more, our dollars have made Apple the most valuable (measured by market capitalization) in the country. We have a right to use our purchasing power to influence the companies we do business with. And Apple can afford it.\u201d\n\tI still don\u2019t think Apple should be vilified, but Snyder does make a good point about Apple\u2019s accountability. Apple has positioned and sold its products to consumers who side with the image of the renegade and freedom for all. Who can forget Apple\u2019s image-making \u201c1984\u201d Macintosh commercial?\n\tToo young to remember? Here it is.\n\t \n\tGeorge Orwell\u2019s dystopian novel, "1984", written in 1949, is about a totalitarian future complete with thought-crimes and a government-controlled press. The dark imagery in the novel (and the Apple advertisement) is Orwell\u2019s warning against the rise of communism, some scholars believe.\n\tAll of which brings us back to Apple\u2019s China-labor problem today. China is a communist country that, let\u2019s face it, suppresses its own people. Let\u2019s not forget the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.\n\tShortly after the New York Times story ran, Cook sent an internal memo to Apple employees. Cook wrote: \u201cAny suggestion that we don\u2019t care is patently false and offensive to us. As you know better than anyone, accusations like these are contrary to our values. It\u2019s not who we are.\u201d\n\tThe question shouldn't be \u201cWhy is Apple being singled out?\u201d The question should be \u201cWhy is Apple surprised?\u201d Apple courted "Fight the Power" consumers who are more likely to be outraged by labor abuses. No other consumer electronics maker has made its image to suit this type of consumer.\n\tIt would be like PETA serving foie gras at a member luncheon \u2013 you can\u2019t have it both ways.