Apple CEO Tim Cook on Saturday used his first public remarks in China in recent years to praise the country for its rapid innovation and its long ties with the U.S. iPhone maker, according to local media reports.
Cook is in Beijing to attend the China Development Forum, a government-organised event being held again in full force after the country ended its COVID controls late last year.
Besides Cook, the event is being attended by senior government officials as well as CEOs of firms such as Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) and BHP.
“Innovation is developing rapidly in China and I believe it will further accelerate,” Cook was quoted by The Paper news outlet as saying.
His visit comes at a time of rising tensions between Beijing and Washington and as Apple has been looking to reduce its supply chain reliance on China and moving production to new up and coming centres such as India.
Last year, production at the world’s largest iPhone factory run by Apple supplier Foxconn was heavily disrupted after China’s zero-COVID policies fuelled worker unrest.
Cook also visited an Apple Store in Beijing on Friday, pictures of which went viral on Chinese social media.
During his speech, Cook also discussed education and the need for young people to learn programming critical thinking skills, announcing that Apple plans to increase spending on its rural education programme to 100 million yuan, the local media reports said.