Apple CEO Tim Cook received a warm welcome from the public at a conference sponsored by the Chinese government amid tensions between China and the United States.
“I am very happy to be back in China,” Cook told the China Development Forum during his appearance on Saturday, according to reporting by the Wall Street Journal. “It means the world to me and I feel really privileged to be here.”
Cook, who made his first trip to China since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, delivered a cheery speech that was well received by the audience, with Cook telling those in attendance that Apple and China have grown closer in three decades.
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Apple relies on China as both a hub for manufacturing and a growing consumer base for its products, and Cook said the company and the country have benefited from the relationships.
“This has been a symbiotic relationship that we’ve both enjoyed,” Cook said.
Cook also answered questions about his support for the China Development Research Foundation’s education efforts, with Cook pledging 100 million yuan, equivalent to about $14.6 million, to help fund the foundation’s education projects.
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Cook is one of dozens of US and other foreign executives to appear at the conference, which is taking place at a time of rising tensions between China and the West. Senior US officials have postponed a visit to China in recent months, while Secretary of State Antony Blinken postponed a February trip to Beijing in response to an alleged Chinese surveillance balloon recently hovering over the mainland United States.
It also comes after executives from another high-profile tech company, TikTok, sparred with US lawmakers during recent testimony on Thursday.
TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew faced a barrage of questions from both Democrats and Republicans about his company, which is based in China, with the social media platform later accusing lawmakers of political bigotry.
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Apple did not immediately respond to Fox Business’ request for comment.
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