'I'm thrilled to be back,' Apple CEO highlights his long-term relationship with China
Published: Mar 25, 2023 11:49 AM
Photo: A screenshot of Tim Cook's Sina Weibo on March 24, 2023.

Photo: A screenshot of Tim Cook's Sina Weibo on March 24, 2023.

"I'm thrilled to be back in China," Apple's CEO Tim Cook said during a panel discussion at the China Development Forum (CDF) in Beijing on Saturday, marking his first visit to China since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Cook is among a group of top US executives attending the CDF in Beijing this weekend, reflecting US companies' commitment to the Chinese market despite rising calls led by US officials for an economy-wide decoupling from China and the restructuring of supply chains. 

Other top US executives and economists attending the forum include Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater Associates, Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer and Jon Moeller, CEO of consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble.

"I started coming to China even before I joined the Apple, so my relationship with China goes back a long time," Cook said, noting that Apple will celebrate its 30th anniversary this year.

2023 marks Apple's 30th anniversary in the Chinese market, as the US tech giant opened its Beijing office in 1993.

With Chinese customers and partners, Apple and China have grown together, which has been a relationship beneficial to both sides, and now the US tech giant have millions of developers and very large supply chain operations in China. 

"Every time I come to China, I learn stuff, I take something back with me. It's primarily about the culture," Cook said. 

Cook also noted that he has seen many things change in China, including cities become modernized and rural areas become industrialized, but the thing that hasn't changed is the culture. "I love that culture," he said. 

On Friday night, posts and pictures showing Cook being welcomed into an Apple store with cheers and applauses went viral on Chinese social media.  

In a Weibo post along with a picture with a Chinese singer, Cook said "it's wonderful to see our amazing customers and team at Apple Sanlitun. Thank you to Huang Ling for the tremendous performance. Good luck with your upcoming tour."

The moment we arrive yesterday, we couldn't wait to meet some of our customers, Cook said at the panel when asked about the visit to the store. He said he also met with two teachers from rural areas where digital education is now being implemented, and it's wonderful to hear about how the classroom has changed with the introduction of our technology. 

"It was so great being with all the customers," Cook told a group of reporters after the panel. He did not answer a question about Apple's future plans in the Chinese market amid concerns about "decoupling" and supply chain adjustment. 

When asked about how technology has developed in China, Cook said he thinks that innovation is moving so fast, and it will only speed up, including in artificial intelligence and augmented reality, which are huge technologies that promise incredible positive things for humanity. 

This is also the reason why the Apple is pushing very hard for schools to teach young students coding, he said.

The warm welcome Cook received during the visit in China was in sharp contrast with the disrespect and disdain US lawmakers showed to TikTok CEO at a congressional hearing on Thursday, some Chinese netizens noted.