China Premier Li tells Apple’s Tim Cook country to open further

Beijing is courting foreign executives at China Development Forum as it tries to revive economy after ‘zero COVID.’

Li Qiang speaks at the opening ceremony of the World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai, China, July 9, 2020.
China's Premier Li Qiang has told foreign business executives that the country intends to open up further[File: Aly Song/Reuters]

China’s Premier Li Qiang has told Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook and other top foreign business executives that China will open up more, according to the country’s foreign ministry.

Cook is among a number of high-profile foreign executives in Beijing to attend the government-organised China Development Forum.

Li, a close confidant of Chinese President Xi Jinping who took office earlier this month, met Cook and other foreign executives on Monday, the foreign ministry said on Tuesday.

The annual China Development Forum — referred to as China’s Davos — comes as Beijing seeks to revive its economy after scrapping a tough “zero COVID” policy that isolated the country for nearly three years.

Attendees at the event include former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Procter & Gamble Chief Executive Jon Moeller, PwC Global Chairperson Bob Moritz, and HSBC Chief Executive Noel Quinn.

China is also facing a raft of longer-term economic challenges, including a low birth rate, tensions with the United States, and business uncertainty due to regulatory crackdowns on sectors from technology to education and real estate.

Beijing has set an economic growth target of about 5 percent for 2023, its lowest target in decades, amid the uncertainties facing the world’s second-largest economy.

Chinese officials have repeatedly sought to assure local and foreign businesses that the government supports private industry amid a sharp turn towards national security and state-led development under Xi.

During a key gathering of the National People’s Congress earlier this month, Li pledged that entrepreneurs and businesses would enjoy a “better environment and broader space for development”.

Cook’s visit to China comes as Apple is looking to boost manufacturing in India and Vietnam in order to reduce its reliance on supply chains in the country amid rising geopolitical tensions with the West and crackdowns under Xi Jinping.

Apple supplier Foxconn’s iPhone factory in Zhengzhou was severely disrupted by repeated lockdowns last year under “zero COVID.”

On Saturday, Cook was quoted in Chinese state media praising China’s rapid development and expressing his belief it will “further accelerate”.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies