During his recent visit to China, Apple chief Tim Cook met with the country's vice premier Ma Kai and discussed a range of topics including privacy and security. Later on, in an exclusive interview with China's Xinhua news agency, he described the talks as "very open", "fascinating", and "impressive", although he declined to give any further details.

Cook's remarks came in the wake of a report from Chinese censorship monitoring group GreatFire.org which claimed that the Chinese authorities were involved in the recent iCloud attacks. The government strongly refuted the allegations, claiming they too were victimized.

Apple recently acknowledged that the company is aware of the attacks but stopped short of naming China in its security warning.

As part of the interview, Cook also said that bringing Apple Pay, the company's new contactless mobile payments system, to China is on top of the priority list, and he is still seeking to understand the necessary steps to do so. "We want to bring Apple Pay to China", he said. "I'm convinced there will be enough people that want to use it. It's going to be successful".

For Apple, China is an important market, where it currently has a market share of about 16 percent, behind Samsung and the country's home brand Xiaomi, which claim 23 and 21 percent market share, respectively. "China is a really key market for us", said Cook. "Everything we do, we are going to work it here".

He also said that the company plans to increase the number of Apple stores in China from 15 to 40 by 2016.