Apple CEO Tim Cook met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Seattle last week, and in one sentence he perfectly characterised what it’s like to meet one of the most powerful men in the world.
“Did you feel the room shake?” Tim Cook asked after the meeting, according to a report by The New York Times’ Jane Perlez.
The two men were at an internet conference on Microsoft’s campus that the Chinese government put together to greet Xi. There, the Chinese President did a ten minute photo op with executives from the top tech companies in the country, from Facebook to IBM.
Xi Jinping is arguably the strongest leader China has seen since the days of Mao Zedong, founder of the ruling Communist Party. Over the last year and change, he has consolidated power through an anti-corruption campaign that has ensnared the highest level party officials in the last 30 years.
And the Chinese people love that. According to the Pew Research Center, corruption is their biggest concern in the country. Xi has also drummed up support by striking a nationalist tone on issues like China’s military activity in the South China Sea.
Its neighbours — US allies — are worried about China’s claims that it has a right to dominate the waters.
Xi maintained that belief, despite US opposition, while speaking at the White House last week.
“We have the right to uphold our own territorial sovereignty and lawful and legitimate maritime rights and interests,” he said.
That’s a room shaker.