“Apple Inc. Chief Executive Tim Cook will co-chair the Chinese government’s showcase global business forum next month, underscoring his increasingly high profile here as Apple and other companies wrestle with tough new government demands on cybersecurity,” Yoko Kubota writes for The Wall Street Journal. “When he co-chairs the China Development Forum in March, Mr. Cook will be making his fifth appearance at a newsmaking event in China in little over a year. The development forum is a sought-after event for the world’s business elite due to the rare access it offers to senior Chinese government leaders.”

“It comes as Apple faces myriad challenges in China, including loss of market share to domestic smartphone rivals as well as dealing with new government demands on its operations. This week, Apple will begin shifting customer iCloud data to servers on the Chinese mainland, where experts say it will be more vulnerable to government seizure,” Kubota writes. “Apple is far from the only company to make concessions to China. But the company faces a special challenge maintaining a consistent global branding image given its roots as a company that challenged convention, said Tim Calkins, a professor of marketing at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. ‘Apple, for many years, has embraced the idea ‘think different,’’ Mr. Calkins said. ‘And yet it’s become clear that in China you can’t think too different.'”

“While many Apple users in China have no complaints, some are troubled by its dual standards for China and the rest of the world. One customer who bought an iPhone at a Beijing Apple Store recently said the company’s image had suffered by agreeing to store data in China. That ‘makes Apple no more a great company,’ the person added,” Kubota writes. “Next month’s China Development Forum will now provide a starring role for Mr. Cook… [He] will be joined by dozens of international business luminaries, including Boeing Co. Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg, BlackRock Inc. Chief Executive Larry Fink, GlaxoSmithKline Chief Executive Emma Walmsley and billionaire investor Peter Thiel, according to a release by the state-founded China Development Research Foundation on Monday.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote last July:

China is critical for Apple in every way from sales to product assembly, so Apple continues to kowtow to China.

With Apple’s strong stance – in other places of the world – on users’ rights and privacy, it’s a bad look for the company and a tough tightrope that Tim Cook — [winner of Newseum’s 2017 Free Expression Award in the Free Speech category, no less] — is trying to walk.

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