Sony going for growth in China

Swelling market expected to become main event

BEIJING — Sony expects China’s fast-expanding market for both entertainment and electronics to be a main source of growth in years to come, despite the occasional political tension between Japan and China, chief executive Howard Stringer said Monday.

Stringer sidestepped questions about the potential repercussions from a visit by Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to a war shrine on Monday that drew immediate protests from both China and South Korea.

In the spring, Chinese resentment over Japanese wartime atrocities decades earlier swelled into violent protests and calls for boycotts of Japanese brand products. Those antagonisms died down as diplomats sought to restore calm, but are bound to resurface in the future.

“Sony is a global company with 70% of its earnings outside Japan and so local politics like that is less clear and appropriate for me to comment on,” Stringer said at a news conference introducing company strategy in China.

“We look forward to a continuing strong relationship with China in many years to come and growing our businesses,” he said.

During anti-Japanese protests earlier in the year, Sony’s China Web page was attacked by hackers. But the Tokyo-based electronics maker said its sales and other business in China were unaffected. Six months on, Japanese products appear just as popular among Chinese as ever.

Sony is on a campaign to build up its image here as a brand that is “more energetic, cooler and much more fashionable than it was only a few years ago,” said Kei Kodera, president of Sony (China) Ltd.

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