Apple CEO Tim Cook. Photo collage by Haejin Park. Photos by Bloomberg
Dec. 7, 2021 6:00 AM PST

Apple’s iPhone recently became the top-selling smartphone in China, its second-biggest market after the U.S., for the first time in six years. But the company owes much of that success to CEO Tim Cook, who laid the foundation years ago by secretly signing an agreement, estimated to be worth more than $275 billion, with Chinese officials promising Apple would do its part to develop China’s economy and technological prowess through investments, business deals and worker training.

Cook forged the five-year agreement, which hasn’t been previously reported, during the first of a series of in-person visits he made to the country in 2016 to quash a sudden burst of regulatory actions against Apple’s business, according to internal Apple documents viewed by The Information. Before the meetings, Apple executives were scrambling to salvage the company’s relationship with Chinese officials, who believed the company wasn’t contributing enough to the local economy, the documents show. Amid the government crackdown and the bad publicity that accompanied it, iPhone sales plummeted.

Get access to exclusive coverage
Read deeply reported stories from the largest newsroom in tech.
Latest Articles
 
The Weekend Crypto AR/VR
“I Felt Like I’ve Been Taking Crazy Pills”: After a Meltdown, Crypto Pros Assess the Damage
“I Felt Like I’ve Been Taking Crazy Pills”: After a Meltdown, Crypto Pros Assess the Damage
Hi, welcome to your Weekend! Feeling numb to the latest Elon Musk scandal, I went looking for another celebrity feud to obsess over for awhile. There was no way I was wading into the toxic cesspool that is Amber vs. Johnny. And I could care less about Ted Cruz’s opinion of Pete Davidson.But the Wagatha Christie trial? Oh, my friends, this is the stuff. The case introduces us to two warring...
Latest Briefs
 
Amazon Tests Program to Deliver Goods From Shopping Malls
Google Compromises on App Store Payments Pending Lawsuits
SE Asia Food Delivery and Ride Hailing Firm Grab Sees Rebound
Stay in the know
Receive a summary of the day's top tech news—distilled into one email.
Access on the go
View stories on our mobile app and tune into our weekly podcast.
Join live video Q&A’s
Deep-dive into topics like startups and autonomous vehicles with our top reporters and other executives.
Enjoy a clutter-free experience
Read without any banner ads.
Apple's Tim Cook (clockwise from top left), Bob Iger, Al Gore and Mike Rockwell. Images by Bloomberg, Shutterstock. Art by Mike Sullivan.
Exclusive Facebook Apple
The Inside Story of Why Apple Bet Big on a Mixed-Reality Headset
In 2016, Apple’s board of directors gathered inside one of its buildings in Cupertino, Calif., for a glimpse into the company’s future.
Elizabeth Spaulding, CEO of Stitch Fix. Photo by Bloomberg.
Exclusive E-commerce
How Stitch Fix Fumbled a Make-or-Break Pivot
Stitch Fix planned to revive sales growth by turning its original strategy on its head. Inside the company, there were warning signs that the effort would struggle.
(L-R) Jonathan Ive, Johny Srouji, Dan Riccio and Tim Cook. Photos by Bloomberg; Apple. Art by Mike Sullivan
Exclusive Apple AR/VR
Behind the Apple Design Decisions That Bogged Down Its Mixed-Reality Headset
Apple’s executives had a critical design decision to make about the company’s riskiest product in years.
Data Point Entertainment
Netflix Cancellations Rise Among Long-Standing Subscribers
Netflix is losing its grip on long-standing subscribers. New data show that people who have been subscribers to Netflix for more than three years accounted for a significantly greater share of cancellations in the first quarter than they did two years earlier.
(L-R) Cameo CEO and founder Steven Galanis, and Cameo co-founders Devon Townsend and Martin Blencowe. Photo by Getty. Art by Mike Sullivan.
Exclusive Venture Capital Startups
At Cameo, Boom Times Give Way to Sharp Sales Slowdown
By the beginning of last year, six-year-old startup Cameo was on a tear. Pandemic-induced lockdowns in 2020 had spurred demand for the personalized video messages celebrities sell on its website and app.
Sundar Pichai, Mark Zuckerberg and Rupert Murdoch. Photos by AP; Bloomberg. Art by Mike Sullivan
Opinion Policy
Meta and Alphabet Should Get Used to Paying for News
If you’re concerned about dreadful trends in the journalism business, such as mass layoffs and private-equity takeovers, then you’ll probably like the scheme Australia devised last year to funnel funding from platforms to traditional media.