Sat, Mar 24, 2018 - Page 10 News List

US tech leaders headed for China to lobby at forum


Leaders of Apple Inc, Google and other US technology giants are heading to China this weekend to pursue a familiar goal: to do more business in the world’s most populous country. Such efforts have had mixed results in the past.

With a trade war brewing between the world’s two largest economies, the goal has gotten loftier still.

Apple chief executive Tim Cook, Google CEO Sundar Pichai and IBM Corp chairwoman and CEO Ginny Rometty are scheduled to attend the China Development Forum, an annual gathering that helps Western corporations build relationships with Chinese government officials.

Cook is cochairing the event this year and Apple has the most at stake in China among US tech companies. Its iPhones and other gadgets have sold well in China, but revenue from the region fell in Apple’s last fiscal year. The Cupertino, California-based company has also been criticized for relocating the data of Chinese iCloud users to Chinese state-controlled server farms.

At last year’s forum, IBM announced a deal with Chinese company Wanda Group (萬達集團). The deal was meant to help IBM expand in the Chinese cloud market, although Caixin has reported that Wanda would stop working with IBM.

Google pulled out of China in 2010 over government censorship of its search results. The company has been trying to return over the past few years, but has made little progress.

These hurdles would only get higher if a trade war were to erupt between the US and China. On Thursday, US President Donald Trump ordered 25 percent tariffs on at least US$50 billion of Chinese imports, including information and communication technology. He also accused China of stealing intellectual property. China responded with its own duties on some US imports.

Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf is to attend the conference, but has canceled his plan to speak.

The conference comes just days after Bloomberg News reported that Chinese regulators are seeking more protections for local companies before approving Qualcomm’s proposed purchase of NXP Semiconductors NV.

The Chinese Ministry of Commerce is not satisfied with the remedies that Qualcomm has offered so far and has told the company to propose more, people familiar with the matter have said.

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