Apple CEO Tim Cook appointed chairman of Beijing university board amidst growing concerns over Chinese influence

Cook will assume the role for three years and will help the development of the prestigious school.


Apple CEO Tim Cook has been appointed the chairman for the advisory board of Tsinghua University's economics and management school in Beijing.

Cook has been a part of the advisory board for a year, but now he has been appointed as chairman of the board, according to a report by South Morning China Post. Cook will assume the role for three years, according to a statement released by the university.

Apple CEO Tim Cook appointed chairman of Beijing university board amidst growing concerns over Chinese influence

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, California, U.S. June 3, 2019. Image: Reuters

In 2018-19, the advisory board had 70 members and included Alibaba founder Jack Ma, Tencent founder Pony Ma, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, and Softbank chairman Masayoshi Son, among others.

The report reads that Tim Cook's role on the advisory board "could provide access to top Chinese leaders at a time [when] the iPhone manufacturer is facing mounting challenges".

This report comes at a time when Apple has been forced to deal with increasing political tensions between the US and China, and protesters in Hong Kong. Apple's loyalties have also been called into question when last week it removed an app that helped pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong track police movements after a Chinese state newspaper sharply criticised it for allowing the software. Apple claims that the app, HKmap.live, was used to target the police. Apple was also recently called out for removing the Taiwan flag emoji in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Apple's interest in China is largely monetary in nature and any trouble there could directly impact Apple's global reach, given that almost all iPhone production happens in the country.

Separately, Tim Cook also met the chief of China’s market regulator in Beijing expanding investment in China, consumer rights protection and fulfilling corporate social responsibility.

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