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Insights: Apple's Tim Cook: China Offers Skilled - Not Cheap - Workers

December 05, 2017 00:00 AM UTC
- Updated May 06, 2020 17:01 PM UTC

The CEO spoke with FORTUNE December 2017.

[MUSIC PLAYING] He is Apple CEO Tim Cook. And he's going to be interviewed by Fortune executive editor, Adam Lashinsky. Please welcome them. [APPLAUSE] [MUSIC PLAYING] Thank you, Alan. And welcome, Tim. Thank you. Great to be here. I'm so pleased, personally, that you're here helping us make history in Guangzhou. Alan, if we didn't mention any company that Apple has a competitive relationship with, we wouldn't have much to talk about. We couldn't mention any company during our chat. I know you've been here all week. So we have a lot of exciting things to talk about. But I wanted to start by looking back. Apple has a rich history with China. And you have a rich history with China, because you've been traveling here a long time. Could you share a thought on that and also reflect on what has changed? I came to China for the first time in maybe a quarter century ago. So that's the reason my hair is gray by now. And it's just been a sea change. You think about it now. Some of the most modern cities in the world are in China. In the mid '90s, you wouldn't find any modern cities of the world here. The infrastructure that is going on in China has come an extraordinary distance. Also, China at that time was, at least from our point of view, was focused mainly in China. Now China plays a leadership position for the world in many different areas. And so it's like a different country. If you were to come in when I did and you went to sleep for the 25 years, and you were parachuted back in, it would be unrecognizable. China has extraordinary skills. And so probably the part that is the most unknown is there's almost 2 million application developers in China that write apps for the iOS App Store. And these are some of the most innovative mobile apps in the world. And the entrepreneurs that run them are some of the most inspiring and entrepreneurial in the world. Those are sold not only here but exported around the world. Also, in the manufacturing space, China has moved into very advanced manufacturing. And so you find in China the intersection of craftsmen kind of skill and sophisticated robotics in the computer science world-- that intersection, which is very, very rare to find anywhere-- that kind of skill, which is very important for our business because of the precision and quality level that we like. And then, of course, the thing that most people focus on, if they're a foreigner coming to China, is they focus on the market itself and the size market. And, obviously, it's the biggest market in the world in so many different areas. But for us, the number one attraction is the quality of people. So we've had an extraordinary relationship over three decades really.