Chinese Vice-Premier Ding Xuexiang and Apple CEO Tim Cook have met in Beijing, with both committing to Apple’s participation in developing the country’s digital economy and hi-tech supply chain, as the US tech giant attempts to shift its China narrative amid controversies over national security and censorship.
After a quiet start, Cook’s surprise China trip has ramped up over the past few days, to include meetings with Ding and other high ranking officials such as Ministry of Industry and Information Technology head Jin Zhuanglong and chairman of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade Ren Hongbin, according to a report from the state-run outlet The Global Times.
While high profile meetings are typical of a visit by the Apple CEO, the latest closed-door discussions come against the backdrop of Beijing’s recent restrictions on government worker’s use of iPhones over national security risks, and controversy surrounding the Chinese iOS Storeand its need to better comply with local censorship regulations.
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However, in their meeting, Ding told Cook that China’s doors are “open” and that the country is willing to provide more opportunities and create a better environment for foreign enterprises, including Apple, according to a report by Chinese state radio.
Cook reportedly stated that Apple remains confident in the prospects of the Chinese market, with the company willing to strengthen cooperation with China in high-end manufacturing, the digital economy and other fields.
Cook’s statements are consistent with recent evidence that China will remain Apple’s most important supply chain for iPhones and newer product lines in the near term despite its recent efforts to diversify its supply chain following Covid-related supply difficulties in the country last year.
Before meeting with Ding, Cook had made a stop at manufacturing facilities run by Luxshare Precision Industry Co, a major Apple AirPods supplier that also won orders to make the iPhone 15, and was more recently given assembly work for the upcoming Vision Pro mixed-reality headset.
At an Apple retail store in China last week, Cook told reporters that he was excited about the work Chinese-based developers had done on apps for the Vision Pro headset, according to state media China Daily.
Ding’s remarks on China’s openness to Apple, one of the largest foreign companies operating in the country, align with Beijing’s broader efforts to attract more foreign investment as part of its post-pandemic economic recovery.
Jin Zhuanglong (right), head of China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, meets Apple CEO Tim Cook in Beijing, on October 19, 2023. Photo: Handout alt=Jin Zhuanglong (right), head of China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, meets Apple CEO Tim Cook in Beijing, on October 19, 2023. Photo: Handout>
According to data from the Chinese Ministry of Commerce reported by Xinhua on Friday, foreign direct investment in the Chinese mainland was down more than 8 per cent year on year in the first nine months. However, hi-tech manufacturing was up 12.8 per cent for the same period.
Cook’s last trip to China was a week-long whistle-stop tour in March when he met Chinese Premier Li Qiang, Minister of Commerce Wang Wentao and other top officials at a government-organised China Development Forum in Beijing.
The end date of the CEO’s latest China tour and the rest of his agenda is unknown. Apple did not reply to a request for comment from the Post outside regular office hours.
This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP’s Facebook and Twitter pages.
Source: Yahoo Finance