Apple CEO Tim Cook Defends Globalization in China Speech
March 18 2017 - 01:49AM
Dow Jones News
By Eva Dou
BEIJING -- Apple Inc.'s Chief Executive Tim Cook defended
globalization in a rare public speech in China, as his company
faces political pressure in the U.S. to bring back factories.
Mr. Cook also said data privacy was one of the company's values,
although he stopped short Saturday of criticizing decryption
demands from governments as Apple has previously in the U.S. It was
his first time speaking at the China Development Forum, an annual
conference sponsored by China's central government. It came as part
of a broader charm offensive in China as Apple announced two new
Mr. Cook said in his hourlong session that globalization "in
general is great for the world," but gains aren't evenly
distributed within countries. While he said this was a problem, he
cautioned against countries retreating from globalization as a
"I think the worst thing would be to--because it didn't help
everyone--is to say it's bad and do less of that," said Mr. Cook.
"I think the reality is you can see that countries in the
world...that isolate themselves, it's not good for their
U.S. President Donald Trump has made American manufacturing
revival a key goal and has called on Apple to bring back iPhone
production. That has raised concerns in China, the main
manufacturing base for Apple and many other global companies.
Mr. Cook didn't directly address the issue of bringing
production back to the U.S. Saturday, beyond his defense of
globalization. Analysts have said it would be difficult to make
iPhones in the U.S. in a cost-effective way, although it might be
possible to move limited production of other Apple products
Mr. Cook's comments on privacy Saturday reflected the sometimes
awkward line that U.S. companies walk as they try to do business in
China. In the U.S., Apple has clashed publicly with the Federal
Bureau of Investigation over its demands for the company to help
decrypt an iPhone's data.
China last year passed a controversial cybersecurity law that
requires companies to provide technical assistance to authorities
in investigations. But executives generally shy away from
criticizing Chinese policies publicly, as it rarely results in
policy change and often draws blowback.
Mr. Cook spoke in general about data privacy on Saturday, saying
that Apply encrypts data end-to-end to prevent "hackers and so
forth" from accessing it.
"We think that an individual should own their data and should be
able to control their data," Mr. Cook said.
For Western executives, speaking at the annual China Development
Forum is seen as a move to improve government relations with
Beijing, as many senior Chinese officials attend the event. Mr.
Cook hasn't previously spoken there, and rarely appeared in public
in China. Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg spoke at
the China Development Forum last year, but the social network has
made little progress in staging a return to China, where it is
blocked, and people familiar with him say he doesn't want to return
until there is progress. Mr. Zuckerberg isn't on the speaker list
Mr. Cook is also scheduled to introduce China's top internet
regulator, Xu Lin, in a closed-door discussion among business
executives about security and internet regulation on Monday.
Tripp Mickle contributed to this article.
Write to Eva Dou at email@example.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
March 18, 2017 01:34 ET (05:34 GMT)
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