China’s Commerce Minister meets Apple CEO, reflects appeal of Chinese market
Published: Mar 23, 2024 06:41 PM
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 in succession with global business executives, including Apple CEO Tim Cook and SK Hynix CEO Kwak Noh-Jung over the last  two days. Analysts believe that these visits by prominent CEOs demonstrate the enduring attractiveness of the Chinese market for foreign investment, showcasing China's ongoing commitment to further opening up. 

During Wang’s meeting with Apple CEO Cook on Friday, both sides exchanged views on Apple’s development in China and China-US economic and trade relations. Wang said that China’s economy has shown strong resilience, and its long-term positive fundamentals remain unchanged, according to a statement issued by the Ministry of Commerce on Saturday.

Wang noted that China has an enormous market size, a complete industrial system, high-quality human resources, as well as a stable and open business environment. China is accelerating the development of innovation-led new quality productive forces, with promising growth prospects in high tech fields such as artificial intelligence and cloud computing, which means huge opportunities for global businesses including Apple. 

He also welcomed Apple to continue deepening cooperation in the Chinese market and achieve common development.

Wang also stressed that China-US economic and trade cooperation is a stabilizing force in bilateral relations. The business community is generally opposed to “decoupling” and “breaking chains” with China and to the generalization of the concept of national security. China is willing to work with the US to create a fair, stable, and predictable environment for business cooperation between the two countries.

Cook said that China is an important market and a key supply chain partner for Apple due to its rich talent pool and strong sense of innovation. Apple will remain committed over the long-term development in China and continue to invest in China’s supply chain, research and development, and sales.

Cook is also among a host of business executives that have arrived in China in recent days. They are expected to participate in a series of high-level meetings, such as the CDF, and the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) Annual Conference 2024, which will start in Boao, South China’s Hainan Province, in the coming week.

On Saturday, Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao also met with SK Hynix CEO Kwak Noh-Jung. On Friday, Wang met with Visa Inc CEO Ryan McInerney and Broadcom President and CEO Hock E. Tan. A day earlier, Wang met with Mercedes-Benz chairman Ola Kallenius, HP Inc President and CEO Enrique Lores and Eli Lilly Chairman and CEO David Ricks, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

Cook has been in China since earlier this week, drawing widespread attention in China and around the world. On Thursday evening, Cook attended the grand opening of a new flagship store, which is second only to its Fifth Avenue outlet in New York City, in downtown Shanghai. He is also expected to attend the China Development Forum (CDF), which is expected to kick off on Sunday in Beijing.

Cook’s visit highlights the importance of the Chinese market to Apple, especially at a time when the US tech giant is facing regulatory challenges in Western markets, a technology industry expert surnamed Liu told the Global Times on Saturday.

In early March, the EU hit Apple with an antitrust fine worth 1.8 billion euros ($1.9 billion). And it is likely to face EU probe into its compliance with the bloc’s Digital Law, according to media reports.

Domestically, the US Justice Department and more than a dozen states filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple on Thursday, accusing the giant of illegally monopolizing the smartphone market.

“While it is true that Apple is facing fierce competition from domestic brands in the Chinese market, there is still sufficient room for Apple to grow in China, compared with its situation in the US and Europe,” Liu noted. “So whether it is centered around the Chinese market or the Chinese supply chain, it is worthwhile for Apple to make more effort and investment.”

"There's no supply chain in the world that's more critical to us than China," said Cook in a recent interview with media in Shanghai.

Despite Western voices attacking the Chinese economy, recent visits by global CEOs underscores the continued appeal of the Chinese market for foreign investment, Xi Junyang, a professor at the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, told the Global Times.

“China’s ongoing efforts to open its door wider and expand market access for foreign investors while promoting technological innovation have provided huge opportunities for global businesses,” Xi noted. “Plus its strong supply chain support, for any multinationals, China has become an integral part of their global strategy.”