Apple CEO Tim Cook sat down for an interview with Chinese media outlet Caixin on Tuesday, in which he emphasized Apple's ambitions in China and its long-term commitment to investment there.
Despite Apple's need to see off competition in the country from the likes of Chinese mobile makers Oppo and Huawei, Cook took pains to explain that Apple isn't simply in China to grab a piece of the market, but that it is actively working to create jobs and improve people's standard of living in the country.
"We're not just someone who's here to access the market," Cook told Caixin. "We've created almost 5 million jobs in China. I'm not sure there are too many companies, domestic or foreign, who can say that. … There's deep roots here. I think very highly of the country and the people in it. We're here to stay."
As reported earlier this week, Cook has spent the last few days in China to celebrate the company's announcement that it is building several research and development facilities in the region. On Wednesday he stopped in at Beijing-based bicycle sharing startup Ofo, which counts ride hailing company Didi Chuxing as one of its investors.
Apple surprised analysts last year when it bought a $1 billion stake in Didi, earning it a place on the company's board. Speaking to Caixin, Cook said the investment in Didi was an exceptional case and not a general direction for Apple.
"We've never invested in a developer before, and yet we met Didi, and Didi was so impressive. One, we thought their management was so great, we thought their idea was great," Cook said. "And we liked the holistic view, they were doing everything from taxi to the more-traditional private-car thing. There was a strategic alignment. They needed some funds to continue to grow. We really want them to be successful and be global."
Cook kicked off his China visit with a wide-ranging talk on Saturday at the China Development Forum, where he underlined his support for globalization. When asked by Caixin about the subject, the Apple CEO said there were three groups of people he always kept in mind.
"My view on globalization is that you can think of three groups of people. There's a group of people that globalization has helped tremendously. There's a group that globalization did not help. There's a group of people that globalization hurt," Cook said. "Globalization has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. But I also recognize is that it did not help everyone."
Commenting further on the recent political steps away from globalized investment, such as the protectionist policies of the Trump administration, Cook admitted it was important for policymakers to address the issues that have led to resentment by some, but said it would be a mistake to roll back the process of globalization.
"You want to keep this going because it's great. But we must fix this," Cook said. "I do think there are ways to address it. I don't think it’s an impossible task. I hope the politicians will put their attention on fixing that problem. … I'm optimistic. We must be. There are so many good things in the world. We just have to make sure we focus on the thing to fix."
Cook is likely to remain in the country until at least Friday, when Apple will launch its special edition red iPhone 7 and 7 Plus globally. Despite the missing (PRODUCT)RED branding in China, Cook told MacRumors that proceeds from sales of the red colorway iPhones will still go to help the fight against HIV/AIDS, which has been called a "looming epidemic" in the country.
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