Image: APPLE
Image: APPLE

Hong Kong — Apple is optimistic that some of its popular apps removed from its China App Store in 2017 to comply with government requests will be reinstated, says the US technology giant’s CE, Tim Cook.

Speaking at the Fortune Forum in the Chinese city of Guangzhou, Cook also said he believed strongly in freedoms, a comment seen by many as a response to a US democratic senator’s remarks on Tuesday that Apple had a moral obligation to promote free expression.

Apple is facing criticism from local users and rights groups for bowing to pressure from Beijing after it decided to remove dozens of apps from its Chinese store, including messaging apps and virtual private network services, which help users subvert China’s Great Firewall.

"My hope over time is that some of the things, the couple of things that’s [sic] been pulled, come back. I have great hope on that and great optimism on that," Cook said, adding he always tried to find ways to work together and if he was criticised for that, so be it.

App stores run by Apple and Google generate billions of dollars in revenue globally for them and China is a key target market as its users rely heavily on their phones for daily tasks.

Cook said he could not be happier with how the iPhone X was doing in China, Apple’s third-largest region by sales although it has lost market share in recent years as handsets from local rivals gain traction.

Tencent Holdings, China’s biggest social network and gaming company, was a great partner, Cook said, adding that he thought very highly of its founder, Pony Ma.

Apple and Tencent had a spat earlier in 2017 after Tencent launched miniprograms on its WeChat app, which created an ecosystem of apps within the app and threatened to become an operating system of its own.

The companies are seen to have made peace recently, with the Apple China App Store starting to accept WeChat payments from late August.


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