Apple Inc chief executive officer Tim Cook met China’s Minister of Commerce Wang Wentao on March 27, underscoring the importance of the relationship between the leading US consumer tech company and its key partner despite heightened tensions between Washington and Beijing.
“Both sides exchanged views about Apple’s development in China and stabilising the industry supply chain,” according to a statement from Wang’s ministry on the meeting between the two. Wang also told the Apple CEO that China will continue to open up and provide good services to foreign firms including Apple.
Cook joins a number of US and European industry leaders who’ve met with Wang in recent days around the China Development Forum in Beijing – the government’s showcase for signalling a reopening following years of Covid Zero restrictions. Together, they represent the most significant official pow-wows with foreign executives since China dropped those curbs in December. Wang, who was appointed to his role this year, has so far met with the leaders of Nestle SA, BMW AG, Mercedes-Benz Group AG, Pfizer Inc and Qualcomm Inc.
On Saturday, Cook told an audience at the CDF that Apple and China have grown together, and the relationship between the two is “symbiotic”. His China trip also included a stop at an Apple retail store in the Chinese capital with Deirdre O’Brien, the company’s retail chief, and other executives.
Since Cook orchestrated a retail 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.
The longstanding relationship is showing signs of fraying, however. Apple suffered unprecedented snags in production last year due to Covid-triggered factory closures, limiting supply of its flagship iPhone 14 Pro. Apple is now looking to further diversify its manufacturing operations, including by shifting more iPhone production to India. – Bloomberg