Apple CEO Tim Cook defended globalisation with an implicit attack on the Trump agenda

Donald trump tim cook peter theil meeting tech towerDrew Angerer/Getty ImagesPresident Donald Trump, Peter Thiel and Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple, Inc., listen during a meeting with technology executives at Trump Tower, December 14, 2016 in New York City.

Apple CEO Tim Cook issued an attack on the Trump agenda over the weekend.

In a public speech in China, the Alabama-born executive defended globalisation as “in general great for the world,” albeit capable of producing imbalances between different countries, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.

Cook did not directly critique President Donald Trump — but his remarks calling on countries not to reject globalisation appear to be a direct response to the reality TV-star-turned-politician’s radical “America First” agenda.

“I think the worst thing would be to — because it didn’t help everyone — is to say it’s bad and do less of that,” the executive said.

“The reality is countries that are closed, that isolate themselves, it’s not good for their people.”

Apple’s manufacturing efforts are centred in China, and the Cupertino technology firm was a target of Trump while on the campaign trail as part of the then-candidate’s focus on the decline of American manufacturing jobs.

Tim Cook China AppleTim Cook / WeiboApple CEO Tim Cook poses with some children in China.

Now president, Trump’s isolationist and protectionist rhetoric has raised tensions between the US and China — with fears that global companies like Apple could be caught in the middle of any potential trade war.

Last week, Apple announced two new research and development centres in the country — pledging to invest more than 3.5 billion yuan ($US508 million, or £409 million).

Reuters reports that Cook, speaking at the China Development Forum, directly called on China to further open its economy and allow foreign businesses to operate in the country: “I think it’s important that China continues to open itself and widens the door, if you will.”

It has historically been difficult for Western tech businesses to operate in the authoritarian country; Google pulled out in 2010 rather than comply with censorship demands.

CEO Tim Cook has also previously spoken out against Trump’s executive order restricting immigration from some Muslim-majority nations, telling employees that “it is not a policy that we support” and that “diversity makes our team stronger.”

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