Tim Cook allegedly pledged $275 billion to China in investment deal

Tim Cook allegedly pledged $275 billion to China in ‘secret’ investment deal

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Tim Cook's secret China investment deal: The agreement is said to have helped settle tensions with Chinese authorities.
The agreement is said to have helped settle tensions with Chinese authorities.
Photo: Fortune Global Forum/Flickr CC

Apple CEO Tim Cook “secretly” struck a deal with China in which he agreed to invest around $275 billion of Apple’s money to boost the country’s economy and “technological prowess,” according to a new report.

The five-year agreement was allegedly made during a series of visits Cook made to China in 2016 amid growing regulatory hostilities toward Cupertino. Since then, Apple has become China’s biggest smartphone brand.

Cook puts an end to regulatory actions against Apple

“Before the meetings, Apple executives were scrambling to salvage the company’s relationship with Chinese officials, who believed the company wasn’t contributing enough to the local economy,” reports The Information.

As a result of the “government crackdown” and the bad publicity that came with it, iPhone sales in China plummeted. So, Cook struck a deal with authorities in which he pledged billions in Apple cash, according to leaked documents.

The agreement is said to promise support that includes “training of high-quality Chinese talents,” “advanced manufacturing technologies,” new retail stores, research and development facilities, and renewable energy projects.

Cook also vowed that Apple would purchase more product components from Chinese suppliers, collaborate with local universities, sign deals with Chinese software firms, and invest in Chinese companies.

Apple has already made big investments

Cook “personally lobbied officials” after authorities threatened to impose restrictions on Apple services like iCloud and the App Store, the report says. Other Apple officials, including COO Jeff Williams and Lisa Jackson, vice president of environment and policy, also met with Chinese officials.

That same year, Apple invested $1 billion in Chinese ride-hailing firm Didi Chuxing — of which Apple is now a board member. Apple also coughed up more than 50 billion yuan ($7 million) last year to help China’s COVID-19 relief efforts.

The 1,250-word “memorandum of understanding” reportedly lasts five years, with the option to extend it for another year — until May 2022 — if neither party objects

The report also surfaces concerns that Apple could face difficulties dealing with the Chinese government after Cook steps down as CEO. You can read the full report from The Information for more.