But trade tensions and the TikTok affair have left Apple newly vulnerable to Chinese sanctions, according to The Information.
From Wayne Ma’s “Apple’s China Loopholes Are Starting to Close” ($) posted Tuesday:
For years, Apple had negotiated extraordinary exemptions from Chinese regulators eager to curry favor with the American multinational in exchange for the millions of jobs it created, the billions of dollars in taxes it paid and the technology it transferred to a generation of Chinese suppliers. Those exemptions include the way it operated the Chinese version of its App Store—without a local partner—and how loosely it censored the store.
But now, Apple faces its toughest environment in China in years amid the dizzying decline of U.S.-China relations, which includes the forced sale of the U.S. operations of TikTok, the first Chinese-owned app to become a global hit. Foreign tech companies in China must navigate increasingly treacherous waters, careful to placate Chinese officials without triggering a backlash back home…
Under CEO Tim Cook, Apple has painstakingly continued to cultivate deep ties to China, where nearly all of its products are made. Cook, who was instrumental in building out Apple’s reliance on China’s supply chain, visits at least twice a year to greet regulators and senior politicians. He’s a celebrity seen as a sage in the business world, akin to Henry Kissinger in politics, according to a person who has talked to regulators.
My take: I can see the resemblance, but I have to squint pretty hard.