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Why Apple Is Among Those Most at Risk From a Trade War With China

March 26, 2018, 1:53 PM UTC

This article first appeared in Data Sheet, Fortune’s daily newsletter on the top tech news. Sign up here.

Tim Cook is back in China.

He visited for years when he oversaw the development of Apple’s vast, China-centric supply chain. He returned repeatedly as Apple has built up a critical retail business selling high-end phones to China’s status-conscious middle class.

Cook caught flack late last year for unapologetically attending a government-sponsored Internet conference, what with the Chinese government’s policies of censorship and shutting out U.S. Internet companies. At a Fortune forum immediately following that appearance, he defended his intention to remain “in the arena” and to engage with China.

If only cozying up to Chinese regulators were Cook’s biggest concern now. He is in China this week for another government forum. Without naming the President of the United States, he warned against countries that don’t embrace openness, diversity, and the other intangible benefits of international trade.

Few companies have as much to lose from a U.S. trade war with China as Apple (AAPL). iPhones are not at the top of the list of targets China is threatening in response to Donald Trump’s trade actions. No doubt tech products are being held back for a later, more powerful salvo from Beijing.


I followed some of the advice in this weekend Wall Street Journal article about reducing Facebook’s (FB) ability to track your activity for advertising purposes. Even though I was never big into signing into apps via Facebook I was shocked at what the under-regulated media company knew about me and how breezily I’d either opted in or failed to opt out of its come-ons. It took me about five minutes to reduce my footprint on Facebook without (yet) deleting my account.