Apple CEO Tim Cook stresses ties With China at Beijing event


BEIJING: Apple Inc chief executive officer Tim Cook returned to China to attend the high-profile China Development Forum to celebrate the iPhone maker’s ties to the region, even as tensions between Beijing and Washington mount.
Apple and China have grown together, Cook said during a stage discussion on technology and education at the state-sponsored presentation on Saturday. He highlighted the company’s concerns about technology misuse given recent advances in artificial intelligence and augmented reality.
“This was a symbiotic type of relationship that we both enjoyed,” Cook said. Apple plans to increase spending on its rural education program in China to 100 million yuan ($15 million), he said, adding that it’s important for kids to develop both their coding and critical thinking skills in one to improve the rapidly changing world.
Innovation will only accelerate, and technology developers must use it in the “right way” to help humanity, not work against it, he said. “I think that’s a tremendous responsibility for any creator to do that.”
Early in his trip, Cook stopped at an Apple retail store in Beijing with Deirdre O’Brien, the company’s chief retail officer, and other executives.
During his trip to China, Cook also met with Chinese government officials. The meetings and his attendance at the event are vital as Cook seeks to maintain a mutually beneficial relationship with the Chinese government. Apple manufactures the vast majority of its products in China, boosting the local economy and having unique access to the Chinese market, including the ability to operate dozens of stores, sell products and run multiple online services.
Since Cook orchestrated an expansion in China about a decade ago, Apple’s products have grown in popularity in the region. The company now counts on Greater China for about 20% of its sales. Led by the iPhone, the Cupertino, California-based company has generated over $40 billion in China revenue every year since 2015, and generated nearly $75 billion in China revenue last fiscal year.
However, the relationship is showing signs of unraveling. Anchored by Foxconn or Hon Hai Precision Industry Co, Apple’s manufacturing footprint in China has been broad and steadfast for over two decades. But the company has struggled in production in recent years due to a US-China trade war and Covid-triggered plant closures that delayed launches of products like the 2022 MacBook Air and limited iPhone 14 Pro offerings.
The partnership has also drawn Apple domestic criticism for complying with Chinese laws on censorship and data retention. The company has made changes to its products in recent years to address Beijing’s concerns, including restricting AirDrop’s file-sharing capability in a way widely seen as a means of deterring protests.
Apple’s ongoing efforts to move some manufacturing outside of China could put further pressure on China’s economy, which is expected to grow at a subdued 5% rate this year. Chinese President Xi Jinping has repeatedly said he wants to boost high-end manufacturing.

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