20211019 tim cook
Apple CEO Tim Cook discussed topics, including Apple’s development in China and US-China trade relations, with China's Commerce Minister Wang Wentao. Image Credit: AFP

Apple Inc. Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook won backing from China’s commerce minister Wednesday for sharing the “dividends of the Chinese market” at a time when the company’s sales outlook in the world’s No. 2 economy has come under scrutiny.

Commerce Minister Wang Wentao told Cook Wednesday that China welcomes Apple, along with other multinational companies, to benefit from the country’s market and engage in “win-win development”, according to a statement from the Chinese ministry.

Cook and Wang met in Beijing against a backdrop of sluggish iPhone 15 sales in the country, and amid fears that China could limit the use of Apple products by government-related employees. It was also just a day after the latest move by Washington to tighten measures aimed at limiting China’s capacity in cutting-edge technology.

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The tech-giant CEO discussed topics, including Apple’s development in China and US-China trade relations, with Wang. Cook said Apple greatly values the achievements it had made in China over the past three decades, according to the Ministry of Commerce statement.

Cook’s second trip to China this year follows a move by Beijing to ban some staff from government agencies and state-owned companies from using Apple’s marquee iPhone for security reasons. The latest iPhone 15 also off to a disappointing start in China after Huawei Technologies Co. stunned the market with the 5G-capable Mate 60 phones.

Tournament visit

US-China tensions over tech issues deepened this week when Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo moved to blacklist Chinese AI chip start-ups Shanghai Biren Intelligent Technology Co. and Moore Threads Intelligent Technology Beijing Co., along with their subsidiaries.

Cook’s charm offensive trip started in southwestern China’s Chengdu, where he visited an Apple store and watched a mini gaming tournament. Apple also donated 25 million yuan ($3.4 million) to a local charity fund that helps development of the rural areas.