Apple CEO Tim Cook Visits China, Touts ‘Symbiotic’ Relationship

Apple CEO Tim Cook, who is currently on his first trip to China since the start of the pandemic in 2020, recently highlighted his company’s “symbiotic” relationship with the country (via the Financial Times).

This year will mark Apple’s 30th anniversary in China, which produces the vast majority of the world’s iPhone supply. “We could not be more excited,” Cook said as he addressed the China Development Forum in Beijing.

“Apple and China […] grew together and so this has been a symbiotic kind of relationship that I think we both enjoyed.”

Cook’s comments come amidst rising geopolitical and economic tensions between the U.S. and China, as well as Apple’s ongoing efforts to expand production outside of China and reduce its supply chain’s reliance on the Asian manufacturing hub.

Apple’s ambitions to diversify production beyond China kicked into high gear last year after the country’s zero-COVID policy severely hampered production.

The tech giant’s biggest supplier and primary assembler of iPhones, Foxconn, suffered protracted lockdowns (and resulting worker unrest) at its gargantuan manufacturing facility in Zhengzhou, ultimately shorting Apple by millions of high-end iPhone 14 Pro units in the coveted holiday quarter and leading to the company’s first decline in quarterly revenue in more than three years.

Apple’s production push outside China is eyeing India as a potential alternative, among other countries. The company has been producing older iPhone models in India since 2017 but graduated to assembling current-gen models in the country last year. Foxconn and other Apple suppliers are upping their investment and production capacity in India.

As part of his trip to China, Cook also visited Apple’s flagship store in Beijing on Friday.