Apple CEO Tim Cook gave a keynote speech at China’s World Internet Conference on Sunday, reaffirming Apple’s commitment to China, which Cook has previously called Apple’s future biggest market.
Cook said the theme of the conference, which he described as a “developing a digital economy for openness and shared benefits,” is one that is shared by Apple.
He also noted how proud Apple is to be working alongside partners in China to, “join a common future in cyberspace. In addition, Cook emphasized how Apple’s operations in China have grown from a handful of employees several decades ago to supporting more than 5 million jobs in China today — including 1.8 million local mobile app developers.
Also in attendance at the conference was Google CEO Sundar Pichai. Unlike Cook, he did not deliver a keynote speech, but rather participated in a panel discussion.
Challenges in China
Despite Cook’s insistence that the theme of the World Internet Conference was “developing a digital economy for openness and shared benefits,” it was also about promoting China’s view of a more censored and controlled internet.
Cook didn’t lay out staunch opposition to this idea, although he did say in his speech that future internet and AI technologies could be combined with “privacy, security, and humanity.”
Tim Cook’s appearance at the conference comes at a time when Apple is, like many U.S. tech companies, facing challenges in China. Back in August, the Chinese government revealed that it is reviewing a possible antitrust complaint against Apple for allegedly abusing its market position in the country.
Recently, Apple fans in China were perturbed after buying the new Apple Watch Series 3 after its LTE connectivity, the chief feature of the new device, was reportedly blocked after brief availability with one carrier due to security concerns.
In the past, Apple has also been ordered to shut down the iBookstore and iTunes Movies in China, as well as been forced to accept the Chinese government’s demands that it run network safety evaluations on all Apple products before they can be imported into the country.
It has also been made to remove Skype from its App Store in China, being told that it does not comply with local laws, possibly due to its strong encryption — which makes messages difficult for the government to monitor.