September 24, 2023

Apple CEO Tim Cook was warmly welcomed by the audience at a conference sponsored by the Chinese government amid tensions between China and the US.

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“I’m very happy to be back in China,” Cook said at the China Development Forum during his speech Saturday, according to a Wall Street Journal report. “It means the world to me and I feel really privileged to be here.”

Cook, who was making his first trip to China since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, gave an upbeat speech that was well received by the audience, with Cook telling those in attendance that Apple and China have grown together in three decades.

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APPLE CEO TIM COOK IS ONE OF SEVERAL US WORKING EXECUTIVES LOOKING TO ATTEND CHINA INVESTMENT CONFERENCE Amid Tensions

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Apple depends on China as a manufacturing center and growing consumer base for its products, and Cook said the company and country have benefited from the relationship.

“It was a symbiotic relationship that we both enjoyed,” Cook said.

Cook also answered questions about his support for the educational efforts of the China Development Research Foundation, with Cook providing 100 million yuan, equivalent to approximately $14.6 million, to fund the foundation’s educational projects.

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Cook is one of dozens of US and other foreign leaders attending the conference, which comes at a time of heightened tensions between China and the West. Senior US officials have refrained from visiting China in recent months, and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has postponed a February trip to Beijing in response to a suspected Chinese spy balloon that was recently spotted in the air over the continental United States.

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It also comes after executives from another high-profile tech company, TikTok, argued with US lawmakers during recent Thursday testimony.

TikTok CEO Show Tzu Chu faced a barrage of questions from both Democrats and Republicans about his company, which is based outside of China, with the social media platform later accusing lawmakers of taking a political stance.

TikTok CEO testifies before Congress

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Apple did not immediately respond to Fox Business’s request for comment.