Apple CEO Tim Cook met with China’s chief market regulator Thursday, a trip likely to attract the tech giant more criticism as tensions fester between the mainland and Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement.
Cook’s meeting in Beijing comes one week after it removed a live map app from the App Store that was being used by protestors. Cook said the app, HKmap.live, was pulled after Hong Kong officials presented “credible information” the app was used to target individuals and property with violence where no police were present.
Cook drew heat from some Hong Kong and U.S. lawmakers for appeasing China’s government and protecting business interests in a big and highly competitive market.
The news service Reuters reported that Cook and China’s chief regulator, Xiao Yaqing, discussed expanding investment in China, consumer rights protection and corporate responsibility. The meeting was made public by a brief statement from China’s State Administration for Market Regulation.
The statement made no mention of the map app or the Hong Kong protests.
Apple, its fortunes tied to China, has spent the year walking a tight rope of perilous politics. Most Apple hardware, especially iPhones, are manufactured in China thanks to an impressive supply chain and low labor costs.
Tariff talk and trade tensions between the U.S. and China have forced Apple to consider moving production elsewhere. China is also a big market for hardware, especially iPhones, where Apple’s market share has been falling against Chinese competitors offering cheaper smartphones.