From Patrick McGee and Ryan McMorrow's "Apple’s bargain with Beijing: Access to China’s factories — and consumers" ($) posted Tuesday in the Financial Times:
The most profitable tech company operating in China is not a homegrown internet giant such as Alibaba or Tencent, but California-based Apple...
It is the result of corporate diplomacy led by chief executive Tim Cook, whose regular visits to Beijing in pre-pandemic times, including meetings with Xi and Chinese tech executives, have helped avoid the fate of other western tech companies. The likes of Alphabet, Meta and Netflix have been locked out of the country.
Critics argue Apple’s reliance on Chinese manufacturing has made it acquiesce too readily to authoritarian demands. The bargain has helped ensure the group maintains unfettered access to the country’s cost-effective labour force and factories, while becoming a leading luxury brand in the world’s biggest consumer market.
“It’s clear to Beijing that it’s a two-way street. They get a lot of good back — a lot of employment out of it, and prestige,” said Brian Merchant, author of The One Device: The Secret History of the iPhone. “The pay, the standards are better for companies contracting with Apple. It’s helped boost wages towards the middle-class.”
My take: In the U.S., we think of Apple as a great American success story. Beijing may be forgiven for seeing Apple as a great Chinese success story.