Chinese Communist Party congress delegates visiting Tim Cook

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Chinese Communist Party congress delegates visiting Tim Cook

Members of the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party – which is focusing on a wide range of US concerns about China’s activities and plans – will be meeting with a number of leading tech execs, including Apple CEO Tim Cook.

The meeting between Cook and the 10-member bipartisan delegation is set to take place on Friday, likely at Apple Park

Topics will range from China’s control of rare earth minerals through its stranglehold on the consumer electronics supply chain to its human rights record.

CNN reports.

Members of a House panel focused on US-China competition are set to meet with leaders from Silicon Valley and Hollywood during a multi-day tour of California beginning today, according to a source close to the committee. 

The [delegates plan] to meet with top execs from Google, Microsoft, Apple and Disney, among others, to discuss topics ranging from China’s investments in artificial intelligence to its cultural and human rights record; its impact on supply chains; and its goals for defense and other emerging technologies, the source said.

The objective is said to be for Congress to express its concerns about the actions and intentions of the Chinese Communist Party, and in particular to stress the risks to the US of excessive dependence on China as both a manufacturing center and a large customer base.

“This committee was set up to build out the bipartisan consensus on the CCP and the actions we need to take to defend ourselves,” the source said. “[The goal is to] make them aware of what’s happening so they can equip themselves as appropriate.”

In Apple’s case, there is little need to make the company aware of the risks it is running through its enormous dependence on China. It’s been estimated that some 80% of the world’s iPhones are made in a single Foxconn plant in Zhengzhou, colloquially known as iPhone City.

The vulnerability this creates was made crystal clear when there was an outbreak of COVID-19 within the campus itself. Workers complained of a lack of food and medication, and significant numbers chose to break out of the plant and return to their home towns. Subsequent bonus offers had limited effect, and failure to pay them led to violent protests. Attempts to appease workers with compensation saw more than 20,000 workers leave. The incident was estimated to have cost Apple a billion dollars per week.

India is seen as Apple’s main hope when it comes to relocating production outside of China. A report last year suggested that a quarter of all iPhones could be made in India by 2025, and a later one indicated that this could rise to half of all iPhones by 2027. A new Foxconn plant in India is reportedly set to be half the size of China’s iPhone City.

We learned yesterday that Apple has created tiger teams to reexamine its entire supply chain, right down to the level of screws and plastic inserts. The twin goals are to diversify from China, and ensure backup suppliers for every component.

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