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China says Apple CEO met top regulator in Beijing for a ‘deep discussion’

Apple CEO Tim Cook met with China’s top regulator this week for a “deep discussion” about a range of issues, according to the Chinese government.

The meeting between Cook and China’s chief market regulator, Xiao Yaqing, took place just a few days after the company pulled HKmap, a real-time mapping app used by pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.

The talks covered a wide range of topics “including expanding Apple’s investment and business development in China, consumer rights protection and fulfilling corporate social responsibility,” according to a statement posted on the website of the Chinese State Administration for Market Regulation on Friday.

It did not provide further details, and Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

China is a key market for Apple. The company’s sales in the Greater China region totaled $9.1 billion last quarter, or about 17% of its global total.

It came under fire from Beijing last week for making HKmap available in the App Store. HKmap used various emojis to communicate what was happening across Hong Kong in real time: A dog marked where police officers were present; a police car showed where police vehicles were located; and a camera marked the location of a livestream.

Apple pulled the app after the official newspaper of China’s Communist Party accused the company of “escorting” the Hong Kong protesters in a harshly-worded commentary.

Protests have been taking place in Hong Kong for months, and dozens of foreign companies that do business in mainland China and the semi-autonomous city have been caught up in the fallout.

In a memo to employees last week, Cook defended the removal of HKmap, saying it had been used in ways that “endanger law enforcement and residents in Hong Kong.” The memo was anonymously posted on Pastebin, a website that allows people to post items without revealing their identities. The text was confirmed by a source with knowledge of the memo.

Cook’s visit to China comes days before the country is set to host global tech companies at its annual World Internet Conference. The Apple CEO attended the conference in 2017, and gave a speech about sharing the benefits of a digital economy.

— CNN Business’ Laura He and Jordan Valinsky contributed to this report.

Article Topic Follows: Biz/Tech

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