Apple CEO Tim Cook, declaring that globalization is “great for the world,” announced at the China Development Forum 2017 last week that the company will spend $507 million to open two additional research centers in the People’s Republic of China.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Tim Cook spoke for an hour at the Beijing’s prestigious Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, which features 18 opulent villas that are offered at up to $50,000 per night. He told attendees that globalization in general is “great for the world.”
Cook did acknowledge that the benefits of globalization are not evenly distributed within countries. But he emphasized that it would be bad for workers of the world if there was less globalization: “I think the reality is you can see that countries in the world…that isolate themselves, it’s not good for their people.”
Cook joined Yousef Al-Benyan, the Chief Executive Officer for Saudi Basic Industries Corporation, and Zhang Tao, Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, in seconding OECD Chief of Staff Gabriela Ramos Patino’s warning that anti-globalism wouldn’t just close markets, it would “shut out partners and opportunities.”
The state run China Global Television Network described CDF 2017 opening day speakers as less concerned with the backlash against globalism due to the refugee crisis in the Middle East, slow economic growth, and political elections in Europe, and more concerned about how “those in power” will choose the right tasks to start the journey to “fix” the world.
Officially advertised by its sponsors as “Engaging with the World for the Common Prosperity,” critics refer to CDF as a pay-to-play event that for 17 years has brought together an elitist gaggle of CEOs, ranging from Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg to Rio Tinto’s Jean-Sébastien Jacques, all seeking to gain audiences with China’s top leadership.
Donations to attend CDF start at 1 million yuan ($155,000), according to Agence France-Presse. But for a 3 million yuan ($465,000) donation, a corporate CEO would be allowed to suggest a panel discussion or nominate a speaker. The donations go to a proxy organization of the communist government planning agency called China Development Research Foundation to support “relevant research projects and administrative expenses of the conference.”
The invitations also state, “Other forms of donation are open for discussion.” India’s The Nation magazine refers to this line as code words for the cost to corporations to be seen sitting near top leaders. Just hours before Cook spoke, Apple announced that it would spend 3.5 billion yuan ($507 million) on 2 new China research institutions.
The Forum is considered important, because it follows immediately after the annual (unwavering) approval of the government leadership’s agenda at the National People’s Congress (NPC). This year is especially symbolic, because the NPC approved the country’s new five-year plan to steer the social and economic public policy through 2020.
The 9to5Mac blog reported that unlike Apple’s aggressive stance against U.S. government surveillance, which included going to court to oppose the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s demands for the decryption of Apple devices, Cook made no comment at CDF about Apple’s willingness to give the Chinese communists’ cybersecurity officials the ability to decrypt iOS products. China is Apple’s second biggest market.