US technology executives seeking to ingratiate themselves with China’s leadership are known for making big entrances, and Tim Cook set the bar high yesterday after he arrived in Beijing to fanfare over Apple’s $1bn investment in the Didi Chuxing ridehailing app.
很多人知道，寻求讨好中国领导层的美国科技业高管会高规格地访问中国。蒂姆•库克(Tim Cook)昨日在这方面进一步抬高了标杆，他到达北京，大张旗鼓地为苹果10亿美元投资打车软件滴滴出行(Didi Chuxing)造势。
He took a Didi car to his first destination, an Apple store in Beijing’s Wang-fujing shopping district, accompanied by Jean Liu, the Chinese company’s president.
“We are very proud of that investment,” Mr Cook told journalists as he posed with a host of local internet entrepreneurs.
“Didi has 14m drivers, 300m users — actually 300m and one now, because Jean and I took a Didi ride here this morning,” he said.
Beijing is a favoured destination for US tech chiefs whose companies are in dispute with China’s leadership. And high-profile shows of goodwill tend to be made in as public a way as possible.
In March Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook — which remains blocked to China’s 700m internet users — was derided online as a “Zuck-up” when he jogged through Tiananmen Square in a haze of choking pollution.
He also had a meeting with Liu Yunshan, the country’s propaganda chief.
After Microsoft’s offices were raided by Chinese government investigators as part of a tax probe, a visit by Satya Nadella followed, after little more than the standard visa waiting period, in September 2014.
Senior executives of Qualcomm have made Beijing a regular destination since the US semiconductor company was targeted in a 2014 antitrust investigation that resulted in a $1bn fine the following year.
In Mr Cook’s case, the question is how much of Apple’s investment in Didi is motivated by business sense, and how much of it is an effort to smooth things over with the leadership in China, where the iPhone maker has faced a series of setbacks this year. In April the group’s iTunes video services became unavailable in China and in May Apple lost an intellectual property court case against a little-known leather accessories manufacturer that uses “IPHONE” as a trademark on its purses and wallets.
In contrast Facebook won a trademark case days later against a Chinese company using the brand name “face book”, in a sign that official attitudes could be softening towards the world’s largest social network.
Apple is also grappling with declining iPhone sales, which fell by a sharp 26 per cent in China last quarter, compared with a 16 per cent overall fall.
Jia Jinghua, who covers the domestic technology industry for the Sina Tech news agency, said: “Cook is clearly keen to curry favour with Chinese authorities and with Chinese markets.
“He will take advantage of the latest investments into Didi to pay visits to key ministries.”
Apple declined to comment on Mr Cook’s China itinerary.
The visit is his eighth to China since taking over as Apple chief, and is unlikely to be his last.
As one user of Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, commented: “Cook, how many Didi rides does it take to make back $1bn?”