Apple CEO: China's supply chain is most critical to firm

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China Daily, March 21, 2024
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This photo taken on March 18, 2024 shows an interior view of a new Apple store, which is set to launch on March 21, in east China's Shanghai. [Photo/Xinhua]

There's no supply chain in the world more critical to Apple than that of China, Apple CEO Tim Cook said in an interview with China Daily in Shanghai on Wednesday, as the senior executive highlighted the importance of the world's second-largest economy to the United States company's global business.

Cook's comments showed that, despite challenges including external uncertainties, China remains an indispensable part of Apple's global supply chains, due to the nation's manufacturing prowess, as well as its growing research and development capabilities and highly efficient logistics system, experts said.

Looking back over the almost three decades since Apple started cooperating with Chinese suppliers, Cook said, "We've been building up and investing more and more here."

"Today's factories are so much more modern. And in 10 years from now, today will not look that modern, because we will keep advancing."

The Apple CEO stressed the importance of the company's "longtime, win-win relationship" with Chinese suppliers.

"It's the partnership between Apple and Chinese companies that really makes things happen," said Cook.

"We make it where one plus one equals three, instead of two," said Cook, who is scheduled to open Apple's eighth store in Shanghai on Thursday and attend the China Development Forum over the upcoming weekend.

When asked about how he views China's latest emphasis on cultivating new quality productive forces, Cook said, "I think it is essential and it is the future."

He recalled that 30 years ago when he first came to China, local factories were not that automated and there was not much focus on green manufacturing.

But now it is a different picture. "If you look at the automation level, it's not just off-the-shelf automation. It is customized automation," Cook said, referring to a string of product exhibits he saw from Chinese suppliers such as BYD, Lens and Everwin at Apple's office in Shanghai on Wednesday.

"They have robotics, automatic guided vehicles and very precise vision systems. It is the most advanced manufacturing in the world," he said.

Wang Chuanfu, chairman and president of Chinese carmaker BYD, said its subsidiary BYD Electronics has been cooperating with Apple for 15 years on products such as the iPhone, iPad and Vision Pro.

Wang said the company is willing to continue leveraging its research and development capabilities, manufacturing edge and high-quality services to deepen its cooperation with Apple.

According to Apple, 151 of its 200 major suppliers, including foreign and Chinese ones, have manufacturing bases in China.

Bai Ming, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, said China has unparalleled advantages in manufacturing, and its innovation-driven development strategy will help the nation become more important to the growth of global tech giants, such as Apple.

According to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, China has the most complete industrial system in the world. China ranked as the world's largest manufacturing country for the 14th consecutive year in 2023, when its manufacturing output accounted for nearly 30 percent of the world's total.

There are more than 570 Chinese industrial companies among the global top 2,500 companies in terms of R&D investment, the ministry said.

Zhou Qunfei, founder of Chinese glass and touch-screen maker Lens Technology, which is also an Apple supplier, said: "Smart manufacturing and automation can help us boost efficiency and improve the qualification rate of products. It is a must-choose road for us."

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