Apple’s relationship with China has been rocky, especially in the past few months due to Covid-19 measures, which had a negative impact on the production of the Pro models of its latest smartphone generation, and hurt the sales of the iPhone group during the Christmas quarter. In his attempt to build bridges, Apple CEO Tim Cook returned to China for the first time in three years to attend the China Development Forum in Davos. Cook noted that Apple couldn’t be “more excited” about the country, which has been its manufacturing hub for the last 30 years, and that it was time to create a good mood in Beijing.
However, Cook did not mention that Apple has been making efforts to create manufacturing capacity outside of China, particularly in India, a fact that suggests the company is looking to reduce its reliance on China. While Apple still manufactures the majority of its products in China, it uses contract manufacturers such as Foxconn, Wistron, or Pegatron from Taiwan, and Chinese companies such as Luxshare ICT are also said to work for Apple outside of China.
The China Development Forum is an important meeting place for CEOs from all regions of the world who are active or want to be active in China. This year’s edition marked the reopening of the country after the long Corona phase. During his visit, Cook emphasized the size of Apple’s supply chain in China, the importance of the stores in the country, and the presence of “millions of developers for iOS” and other platforms. Cook and his team couldn’t wait to meet Chinese customers, and they drove directly from the airport to the main store in Beijing.
While Cook’s visit was covered extensively in China’s media and was positively evaluated, it also faced some criticism. For example, videos of TikTok boss Shoz Zi Chew, who was rigorously questioned by the US Congress last week, were set in contrast to the Apple boss’s friendly reception. Nevertheless, Cook’s visit signals Apple’s desire to keep its relationship with China on good terms, despite a changing business environment.