Commerce Minister meets Apple CEO, signals strong confidence in Chinese market
Published: Oct 18, 2023 11:37 AM Updated: Oct 18, 2023 11:35 AM
Tim Cook visit Apple store in Chengdu, Southwest China's Suchuan Province, on October 17, 2023 Photo: VCG

Tim Cook visit Apple store in Chengdu, Southwest China's Suchuan Province, on October 17, 2023 Photo: VCG

Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao met with Apple CEO Tim Cook on Wednesday, who is on his second China visit of 2023, as both sides exchanged views on Apple's development in China and China-US economic and trade relations, according to the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM). 

Wang said that China will firmly promote a high level of openness, continue to expand market access, and is committed to creating a market-oriented and internationalized business environment with the rule of law. He also welcomed multinational companies, including Apple, to share the dividends of the Chinese market and achieve win-win development.

Cook said that Apple cherishes the achievements China has made in past 30 years, and supports the US and Chinese governments to strengthen communication and dialogue, maintain and develop stable bilateral economic and trade relations, and create a favorable environment for the pragmatic cooperation of enterprises on both sides.

Cook's visit to China this time is different from his previous trip, as it included a deeper exploration of the Chinese market. This clearly demonstrates Apple's continued desire for deep cooperation with China, Liu Dingding, a veteran technology industry observer, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

The recent increase in visits by global CEOs such as Cook has highlighted the continued appeal of the Chinese market for foreign investment, Liu said.

Observers said that Cook's visit also came amid recent frequent interactions between the US and China, as Chinese officials have welcomed US enterprises and multinational corporations to invest and expand their businesses in China on various occasions. 

"China's door to opening-up and cooperation is becoming wider, providing more opportunities for relevant companies to collaborate with China," Liu said.

Cook on Wednesday night was spotted at the Apple store in Sanlitun, Beijing. Shown in the video posted on Chinese X-like social media platform Sina Weibo, Cook was interacting with customers and taking selfies.

In March, Cook visited China for the first time in three years to attend the China Development Forum, where he was warmly welcomed by the Chinese government and the Chinese people, one day after TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew was grilled by US lawmakers for roughly five hours. 

Cook on Wednesday morning showed up at the plant operated by Chinese manufacturer Luxshare Precision, which manufactures the tech giant's Apple Watch, according to Chinese media outlet

Cook announced his China tour via Sina Weibo on Monday, and posted a photo of Chengdu's Anshun Bridges shot via the latest iPhone 15 Pro Max.

He then visited a local Apple store and met with employees of Chinese mobile game studio TiMi Studio Group. He also visited the No.4 Elementary School in Yucheng district, Ya'an in Sichuan on Tuesday, according to his Sina Weibo account.

Apple announced on Tuesday plans to donate 25 million yuan ($3.42 million) to the China Foundation for Rural Development, in order to help farmers learn new skills, and provide technologies and digital education resources to help students and teachers in rural areas.                        

During the launch of Apple's latest product line in September, Apple highlighted its concept of carbon emission reductions at the production stage. 

"Together with Apple's donation to China's rural development foundation, the US tech giant seems to have noticed the similarity between China's master plans for carbon neutrality and rural revitalization with its own development strategy," Liu said, noting that it may encourage Apple to further explore Chinese market.                                               

Apple's third-quarter results showed that revenue in the greater China region hit $15.758 billion, surging by 7.9 percent year-on-year, amid an overall decline in other markets except Europe.

Revenue from the Chinese market now surpasses 20 percent of Apple's overall revenue, jumping from 2 percent when Cook took office. In addition, Chinese enterprises accounted for 48 percent of Apple's industry chain, according to Securities Times.

Based on the status of the so-called industry transfer out of China so far, China is still the only single market that can provide production and consumption capacity for large-scale international enterprises like Apple and Tesla, said Liu.

 "China on Wednesday released multiple economic figures that showed a stable economy recovery as well promising growth in the fourth quarter, which generated confidence among foreign enterprises in investing China," said Liu.