Apple's entrenchment in the world's most populated nation has long been well documented. However, relations between Apple and China's leaders might have been much chummier in recent years than ever imagined. On Tuesday, the web site The Information reported that Apple CEO Tim Cook signed a secret agreement with China in 2016. The five-year deal, not yet confirmed by either side, was worth an estimated $275 billion and called on the company to invest heavily in the nation. By doing so, the Chinese agreed to squash regulatory actions that were threatening the iPhone maker at the time.
This agreement, perhaps extended one year until April 2022, has required Apple to "strictly abide by Chinese laws and regulations." In turn, Apple agreed to repeat this language whenever forced to respond to criticism over Chinese censorship and privacy.