Tim Cook is headed to China this weekend, alongside Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google, and Ginny Rometty, head of IBM. Cook will be heading co-chairing the China Development Forum, an annual event which aims to build relationships between Western corporations and the Chinese government.
The event comes at a challenging time when the U.S. and China are duking it out concerning trade tariffs and import duties.
Out of the U.S. companies represented at the event, Apple has the most at stake in China. It has focused on growing its iPhone market in the country, as well as opening a string of Apple Stores. At the same time, revenue from China fell in Apple’s last financial year.
Challenges in China
More recently, Apple was criticized by many for allowing the transition of iCloud accounts registered in China to state-run Chinese servers. It also agreed to ban Skype and several other voice over internet protocol apps from the App Store in China because they do not comply with local law.
Previously, Apple has additionally 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 seen its products booted off the list of approved state purchases in favor of Chinese-made products, and been forced to shut down its iBooks Store and iTunes Movies in the country — just six months after the services were first made available.
Late last year, Tim Cook gave a keynote speech at China’s World Internet Conference, reaffirming Apple’s commitment to the country, which Cook has called Apple’s future biggest market. Although he was obliquely critical of Chinese censorship, Cook avoided saying anything likely to ruffle too many feathers. We’ll likely see the same this weekend!
Recently we noted how President Donald Trump’s proposed tariffs on imported aluminum and steel could hit Apple, which is a big user of both, where it hurts.