“Apple Inc is optimistic that some of its popular apps removed from its China App Store this year to comply with government requests will be reinstated, the U.S. tech giant’s Chief Executive Tim Cook said on Wednesday,” Sijia Jiang and Anne Marie Roantree report for Reuters. “Cook, speaking at the Fortune Forum in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, also stressed that he believes strongly in freedoms, in comments after a U.S. 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 cyber regulators after it decided to remove dozens of apps from its Chinese store this year, including messaging apps and virtual private network (VPN) services, which help users subvert China’s Great Firewall,” Jiang and Roantree report. “‘My hope over time is that some of the things, the couple of things that’s been pulled, come back. I have great hope on that and great optimism on that,’ Cook said, adding that he always tries to find areas to work together and if he gets criticized for that, so be it.”

“Tencent Holdings, China’s biggest social network and gaming company, was a great partner, Cook said, adding that he thinks very highly of its founder, Pony Ma,” Jiang and Roantree report. “Apple and Tencent had a spat earlier this year after Tencent launched mini programs on its WeChat app, which created an ecosystem of apps within the app and threatened to become an operating system of its own.”

“The two companies are seen to have made peace recently, with the Apple China App Store starting to accept WeChat payments from late August,” Jiang and Roantree report. “Cook said Apple welcomes the WeChat ecosystem as it in fact lowers the cost for Android users to switch to the iPhone’s iOS system, which he said has around 15 percent of the smartphone market in China. ‘Tencent’s ubiquity in China plays to our advantage. Because WeChat works great on the iPhone, and because you can leave the Android ecosystem and go to iOS without losing all of the things you’ve built,’ he said.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Note: Senator Patrick Leahy (D – Vermont) on Tuesday said in a statement to CNBC: “American tech companies have become leading champions of free expression. But that commitment should not end at our borders. … Global leaders in innovation, like Apple, have both an opportunity and a moral obligation to promote free expression and other basic human rights in countries that routinely deny these rights… Apple is clearly a force for good in China, but I also believe it and other tech companies must continue to push back on Chinese suppression of free expression.”

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