BEIJING – Apple’s CEO Tim Cook met with Beijing’s mayor on Monday, and called for increased cooperation with China’s capital city along with market expansion, according to a report from Chinese state-run press.
Cook is reported to have said on his first visit to China after taking the position of CEO that the country had become important to Apple’s research and development and the supply of its products.
Beijing mayor Guo Jinlong, who met Cook on Monday afternoon, said he hoped Apple and Beijing could take further steps to deepen the company’s cooperation with the capital. Beijing’s top schools, rich talent, and market potential, makes the city ideal to develop the IT industry, he added.
The brief report from the Beijing Daily did not elaborate more on Apple’s cooperation with Beijing. On Tuesday, Apple spokeswoman Carolyn Wu said, “Tim is in China meeting with government officials. China is very important to us and we look forward to greater investment and growth here.” She declined to comment further on Cook’s activities while in the country.
Earlier on Monday, Cook was spotted at a Beijing Apple store, with photos of his visit posted on the country’s Twitter-like microblogging sites.
He previously visited China in 2010 to investigate suicides at the factories of contract manufacturer Foxconn.
Cook’s is making his visit at a trying time for the company in the country. It is currently locked in an ongoing legal dispute over the iPad trademark, which threatens to ban Apple’s tablet sales in the country. Regulatory offices in China are currently investigating the matter as a Chinese court prepares to make a decision on the case.
Apple is also facing negative publicity for the alleged poor working conditions at its suppliers’ factories in China. In January, the company also decided to cancel all iPhone 4S sales at its physical retail outlets after eggs were thrown at one of its Beijing Apple stores.
Cook’s visit could help stabilize the company’s image in China after a string of negative publicity events, said Mark Natkin, managing director for Beijing-based Marbridge Consulting.
“I think they realize on multiple fronts, it’s very important for them to establish strong relationships and then project the most positive image as possible,” he said. “If they are smart, they will be working very hard to strengthen their government relations.”
In October, Cook said China has become the company’s second largest market behind the U.S. The country is expected to become the world’s largest smartphone market this year, according to research firm IDC.