Mark Zuckerberg and Apple CEO Tim Cook, met with Chinese President Xi Jinping at a meeting of the advisers to the Tsinghua University Business School in Beijing on Monday.
The annual meeting was attended by industry leaders, both Chinese and global-based, who all sit on the board of advisers for the school. Founded in 1984, some of the advisers include Lloyd Blankfein, an executive at Goldman Sachs, and the Chinese Central Banker Zhou Xiaochuan.
Both Facebook and Apple have interests within China that a visit to Beijing would prove beneficial for. Zuckerberg has often visited the country, pushing for the unblocking of Facebook, which has been blocked behind the “Great Firewall” of China since 2009, ensuring it is inaccessible to over 1 billion people. Zuckerberg confirmed he was in Beijing at the time, but refused to give comment on the purpose of his visit, despite Zuckerberg himself writing in a post on Facebook that the annual trip was “a great way to keep up with the pace of innovation and entrepreneurship in China.”
For Apple, the launch of the iPhone X will commence on Friday, hoping that the new model will revive sales in the world’s second-largest economy. When questioned, an Apple spokesperson said that the firm wouldn’t “comment on Tim’s schedule and or meetings.”
Apple has recently been criticized in an open bipartisan letter sent to Cook by Senators Ted Cruz and Patrick Leahy, who expressed concerns that Apple “may be enabling the Chinese government’s censorship and surveillance,” by removing VPN applications from the Chinese Apple store:
While Apple’s many contributions to the global exchange of information are admirable, removing VPN apps that allow individuals in China to evade the Great Firewall and access the Internet privately does not enable people in China to ‘speak up’… To the contrary, if Apple complies with such demands from the Chinese government it inhibits free expression for users across China, particularly in light of the Cyberspace Administration of China’s new regulations targeting online anonymity.