Apple CEO Tim Cook (pictured) expressed confidence apps removed from its App Store in China will be reintroduced, as he stressed the importance of internet freedom.
In comments cited by Reuters, Cook told delegates at the Fortune Forum event in Chinese city Guangzhou he had “great hope and great optimism” VPN apps which have been pulled will return to the country.
Apple bowed to pressure from China’s internet regulators after the watchdog ordered the company to remove some VPN applications.
New regulations introduced in January banned all VPNs not approved by state regulators in a bid to crack down on services which bypass the country’s firewall to access overseas sites.
Apple agreed to remove apps which do not have a government licence.
The company faced criticism from VPN providers and users in the country for bowing to pressure and unnecessarily supporting China’s heightened censorship regime.
In his comments Cook hit back, stating he always tries to find areas to collaborate and accepted such a strategy could lead to criticism.
He also said he strongly believed in freedoms after a US senator this week said Apple was obligated to promote free expression, Reuters added.
In a wide-ranging set of comments, Cook said he was very happy with the iPhone X’s performance in China and he described China-based Tencent as a “great partner” in the country.
The two companies recently made peace after a spat relating to Tencent’s launch of mini programs on its WeChat App, which led to suggestions the company could be creating an operating system of its own.
Cook said he welcomed the WeChat ecosystem because the platform made it easier for Android users, which still dominate in the country, to switch to iPhone.
“Tencent’s ubiquity in China plays to our advantage. Because WeChat works great on the iPhone, and because you can leave the Android ecosystem and go to iOS without losing all the things you’ve built,” he said.