Cook hopes Apple apps will be back in China

The news comes as Apple faces criticism from local users and rights groups for bowing to pressure from Beijing cyber regulators after it chose to remove hundreds of apps from its Chinese store this year.

App stores run by Apple and Google generate billions of dollars in revenue globally for them and China is a key target market as its users rely heavily on their phones for daily tasks.

As reported by the Washington Post, "The World Internet Conference held in the eastern Chinese city of Wuzhen is meant to promote China's vision of "cyber-sovereignty" - the idea that governments all over the world should have the right to control what appears on the Internet in their countries". "I have great hope on that and great optimism on that", said Cook.

Cook said he was happy with iPhone X sales in China, which is Apple's third-largest region by sales, although the smartphone continues to be edged out by competitors.

However, the company hopes it can regain back some momentum after the release of its iPhone 8 and iPhone X models which shipped in November, according to Reuters.

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Cook has come to China several times this year, including an October visit where he was among executives that met with President Xi Jinping, who also had prepared remarks read at the conference on Sunday.

Cook's attendance is conspicuous at the conference, marking the first high-level executive to attend in the event's four-year history.

Pichai was on a panel on Sunday, where he pointed out how Google was still relevant to Chinese businesses, despite the fact that it pulled out of China in 2010 following the government's moves to censor YouTube videos and Google search queries.

"A lot of work Google does is to help Chinese companies", Pichai said.

Just a day after the conference, the think tank Chinese Academy of Cyberspace Studies posted a report, advocating for "democratic" internet governance and ranking the country behind the likes of the US, Japan, France, and Estonia, Reutersreported.

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