Apple's CEO Tim Cook visits China

China is a major market for Apple, making up around 20% of its total sales.

Apple's CEO Tim Cook visits China
Apple's CEO Tim Cook leaves the venue following his speech at the China Development Forum 2023, in Beijing, China March 25, 2023 via REUTERS.

The backstory: China is a major market for Apple, making up around 20% of its total sales. But with the US-China trade war and China's strict COVID restrictions, Apple has faced some obstacles that have caused production issues. On top of that, complying with Chinese censorship and data storage laws has led to some criticism of the company. For example, we've seen some changes in Apple's products, such as limiting the AirDrop feature.

More recently: There has been some buzz about Apple considering moving out of China. This is a big deal because China's economy is projected to grow by around 5% this year, so losing the tech giant could put more strain on the economy.

The development: Over the weekend, Cook visited China to attend the China Development Forum and celebrate Apple's relationship with the country. He spoke about how Apple is committed to responsibly using technology, especially artificial intelligence and augmented reality.

While he was there, Cook and other Apple execs checked out an Apple store in Beijing. They also met with some Chinese government officials. Cook also talked about how creators need to use technology in a positive way rather than causing any harm. He also said the company plans to increase funding for its rural education program in China to 100 million yuan (US$15 million), emphasizing the significance of nurturing coding and critical thinking abilities in children to adapt to a rapidly evolving world.

Key comments:

"This has been a symbiotic kind of relationship that I think we both enjoyed," said Tim Cook, CEO of Apple.

"TikTok CEO was under siege at the US hearing, while Apple CEO was enthusiastically welcomed by people at its flagship Chinese store. This shows that China is the one that is actually practicing fair and free trade," according to the state-run publication Global Times, quoting a social media user, about the contrast between Cook's visit to China and TikTok CEO Chew's recent testimony to US Congress.

"[Apple's] dependency on China is a result of almost two and a half decades of what China put in to develop their entire electronics manufacturing ecosystem," said Tarun Pathak, a research director at market research firm Counterpoint, adding that the company makes nearly 95% of its phones in China.