Apple CEO Tim Cook personally met with Chinese officials in 2016 and forged a secret five-year, $275billion deal with Beijing allowing the iPhone maker to freely do business on the mainland in exchange for helping it develop its technology sector.
The explosive reports comes amid rising diplomatic tensions between China and the United States. The Biden administration angered the Chinese after announcing a diplomatic boycott of the upcoming Olympic Games in Beijing.
The Communist-run country has been accused of rampant human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslims, though the government denies allegations it has engaged in genocide.
China has also flexed its muscles in the region by building up its military and warning of possible action against US allies like Taiwan.
In 2016, Apple executives were alarmed at the Chinese government’s threats against features such as Apple Pay, iCloud, and the App Store, prompting Cook to hold a series of secret meetings with Beijing officials.
Cook and Communist Party officials came to a ‘memorandum of understanding,’ according to the report. Apple pledged to invest some $275billion into the Chinese economy over a period of five years.
Apple agreed to a series of concessions in exchange for regulatory exemptions from the Chinese government, The Information reported.
In May of 2016, the company agreed to invest $1billion in Didi Chuxing, the Chinese ride-sharing startup. It also pledged to expand employee training in the country.
The agreement is credited with paving the way for Apple’s sweeping success in China. The company reported $14.6billion in earnings in Greater China in the third quarter of this year – up 58.2 percent from the same period last year.
The iPhone recently became the top-selling smartphone, according to The Information, which reviewed internal company documents.
Apple did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
American corporations have come under criticism at home for expanding their business operations in China, which has been accused of human rights violations against Uyghur Muslims.
Apple CEO Tim Cook (seen above in Beijing in March 2019) personally met with Chinese government officials in 2016 and forged a secret $275billion deal with Beijing allowing the iPhone maker to freely do business on the mainland in exchange for helping it develop its technology sector
Cook is photographed on the left meeting Wang Chao, Vice Minister of Commerce of China, in Beijing in March 2012
The image above released by official Chinese state media in 2018 shows Cook talking with Chinese tech entrepreneurs in Beijing. Apple pledged to invest large sums of money in Chinese start-ups, according to The Information
Cook is seen third from left gesturing during a visit to a Chinese mobile phone store in Beijing in 2014
Last month, Cook told a business forum that he felt Apple had a ‘responsibility’ to sell its products in as many countries as possible, including China.
‘World peace through world trade,’ Cook said.
He acknowledged that the company would have to ‘acknowledge that there are different laws in other markets.’
The 2016 agreement called on Apple to help Chinese manufacturers develop ‘the most advanced manufacturing technologies’ and ‘support the training of high-quality Chinese talents.’
Apple also pledged to sign deals with Chinese software firms, collaborate with researchers from Chinese universities, and invest in Chinese tech firms, according to The Information.
Apple executives were alarmed at the Chinese government’s threats against features such as Apple Pay, iCloud, and the App Store, prompting Cook to hold a series of secret meetings with Beijing officials. Cook is seen above next China Mobile Chairman Xi Guohua (right) in Beijing in 2014
Apple is one of the few American tech giants operating in China.
In October, Microsoft-owned LinkedIn announced that it would shut down its networking service and transition to a job-seeking board after Beijing authorities reportedly gave it 30 days to better regulate its content.
Those companies have been banned in China for years after they refused government demands to censor user content.
‘While we are going to sunset the localized version of LinkedIn in China later this year, we will continue to have a strong presence in China to drive our new strategy and are excited to launch the new InJobs app later this year,’ a LinkedIn spokesperson told DailyMail.com.
Also in October, Amazon’s audiobook service Audible and phone apps for reading the holy books of Islam and Christianity disappeared from the Apple store in mainland China.
Audible said that it removed its app from the Apple store in mainland China last month ‘due to permit requirements.’
The makers of apps for reading and listening to the Quran and Bible say their apps have also been removed from Apple’s China-based store at the government’s request.
Cook is seen right embracing an unidentified man at the China Development Forum in Beijing in March 2017
A spokesperson for China’s embassy in the U.S. declined to speak about specific app removals but said the Chinese government has ‘always encouraged and supported the development of the Internet.’
‘At the same time, the development of the Internet in China must also comply with Chinese laws and regulations,’ said an emailed statement from Liu Pengyu.
China’s government has long sought to control the flow of information online, but is increasingly stepping up its enforcement of the internet sector in other ways, making it hard to determine the causes for a particular app’s removal.
Chinese regulators this year have sought to strengthen data privacy restrictions and limit how much time children can play video games.
They are also exerting greater control over the algorithms used by tech firms to personalize and recommend content.
The popular US language-learning app Duolingo disappeared from Apple’s China store over the summer, as have many video game apps.