Tim Cook touts Apple’s history in China at state economic forum: ‘This has been a symbiotic kind of relationship’

As reported yesterday, Apple CEO Tim Cook is in China this weekend to attend the state-sponsored China business summit. A new report from the Financial Times goes more in-depth on Cook’s visit, with details on what he said during his keynote speech at the China Development Forum.

The China Development Forum is described by the Financial Times as being “the country’s version of Davos” and is held in Beijing. As explained on Friday, Cook is one of a very small number of executives from the United States attending the conference this year. This also marks the first year the event has been held in person since 2019, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking at the event, Cook praised the relationship between China and the United States. “Apple and China grew together and so this has been a symbiotic kind of relationship,” Cook reportedly said during the event. “We could not be more excited.”

Also during the speech, Cook touted Apple’s “very large supply chain operation in China,” as well as its multiple Apple Stores in the country and the App Store’s developer ecosystem. The Financial Times adds that Cook “avoided mention of US-China tensions and supply chain issues.”

According to Reuters, which cites a local news outlet, Cook also praised China’s pace of innovation. “Innovation is developing rapidly in China and I believe it will further accelerate,” he said.

Finally, Cook discussed education and the “need for young people to learn programming critical thinking skills.” He also announced that Apple “plans to increase spending on its rural education program to 100 million yuan.”

Cook’s visit to China and his speech at the China Development Forum come amid growing uncertainty about the future of China relations – as evident by the lack of other US executives in attendance at the event this weekend. Despite some of Cook’s comments at the event, however, Apple is actively looking to diversify its supply chain outside of China.

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