What just happened? Tensions between the US and China continue to rise as both countries announce new export restrictions against each other, but it seems the Asian nation's relationship with Apple remains strong. In a recent meeting with Chinese Vice-Premier Ding Xuexiang, Apple boss Tim Cook was told that China's doors are "open" and that it was willing to provide more opportunities for foreign-funded enterprises such as Apple "to develop" in the country.
Cook made a surprise trip to China last week, his second this year. He visited Apple's Taikoo Li store where the CEO met young gamers competing in an Honor of Kings tournament. Cook also visited the forests of Sichuan to meet representatives from the China Foundation for Rural Development (CFRD).
Cook met with Ding on Thursday for closed-door discussions. The Chinese Vice-Premier was one of several high-ranking officials Cook saw during the trip after the lighter start to his visit.
Chinese state radio reported that Ding said China welcomed Apple and other foreign-funded enterprises "to develop" in the country. Cook said Apple was confident in the prospects of the Chinese market and was willing to strengthen cooperation with China in fields including high-end manufacturing, digital economy, and other areas.
Apple has long enjoyed a better relationship with China than most foreign companies – Cook defined it as "symbiotic" in March. But things haven't been going as smoothly in recent times. While still a major market, iPhone sales in the country have been in decline. Apple saw its shares fall in September after China expanded an iPhone ban to more government offices and agencies, and the company said earlier this month that it would no longer list unlicensed apps on its store in the mainland.
Apple has been diversifying its supply chain following the pandemic and rising tensions between the US and China, but Cook's comments suggest that the country will remain the most important element in its device manufacturing process. Cook also said during his visit that he was excited about the work Chinese-based developers had done on apps for the Vision Pro headset.
The Chinese Ministry of Commerce (via Xinhua) reports that foreign direct investment in mainland China was down more than 8% year on year in the first nine months.
After the US further tightened restrictions on chip exports to China last week, Beijing announced that it was implementing its own rules on the export of graphite, an essential material used in EV battery production.