Apple's Tim Cook arrives in China for a charm offensive

Apple CEO's China visit comes a month after access was blocked in the country to Apple's iTunes, Movie and iBook stores

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 May, 2016, 12:47pm
UPDATED : Monday, 16 May, 2016, 2:36pm

Apple chief executive Tim Cook met Chinese app developers and used a Didi Chuxing car to visit Apple's store in the popular shopping district Wangfujing on Monday, after arriving in Beijing for a charm offensive.

Local publications Cover Media and The Paper reported that Cook attended a seminar hosted by Didi President Liu Qing at the Apple store, where he told Chinese app developers in a closed-door session that their innovative work was consistent with Apple's "spirit."

The developers were from some of China's top app providers, including Groupon-like Meituan, picture-editing app MeituPic, news content provider, culinary app DayDayCook and game developer Tap4Fun.

Cook also reportedly said that government policy played an important role in developing China's digital economy, and that the California-based tech giant was keen to work with China on this.

Although the visit had not been officially confirmed by Apple, Cook was expected to visit China to woo government officials after suffering a series of setbacks in its biggest overseas markets. Reuters broke the news of his impending visit on May 6.

At its second-quarter results announcement in April, Apple revealed its first quarterly revenue drop in 13 years, on the back of a 26 per cent year-on-year fall in smartphone sales in Greater China. In the same month, Chinese regulators apparently blocked access to Apple iTunes Movies and iBooks Store.

And investor Carl Icahn dealt Apple a blow by saying he had sold his AAPL stock, saying that although Apple was a great company and Cook was doing a great job, he was worried about the company's exposure to China.

"You worry a little bit — and maybe more than a little — about China's attitude," Icahn said at the time, adding that China's government could "come in and make it very difficult for Apple to sell there ... you can do pretty much what you want there."

Then, in May, Apple lost a trademark dispute over a Chinese company's use of the name "iPhone."

At the Q2 results announcement, Cook was bullish on China, saying that he thought worries about the country's slowdown were overblown.

Apple underlined its confidence in the country last week by making a US$1 billion investment in Didi Chuxing, a Chinese app that offers ride-hailing services similar to Uber in the U.S.