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A delegation from the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party is set to meet with tech executives, including Apple CEO Tim Cook, on Friday. The 10-member bipartisan delegation will likely meet at Apple Park in California to discuss a range of US concerns about China’s activities and plans. According to CNN, topics will include China’s control of rare earth minerals, its stranglehold on the consumer electronics supply chain, and its human rights record.
The meeting is part of a multi-day tour of California, during which the delegation plans to meet with leaders from Silicon Valley and Hollywood to discuss China’s investments in artificial intelligence, its cultural and human rights record, its impact on supply chains, and its goals for defense and other emerging technologies. Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Disney are among the companies that will be represented.
The committee’s objective is to express Congress’ concerns about the actions and intentions of the Chinese Communist Party, particularly emphasizing the risks 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”, said a source close to the committee. “The goal is to make them aware of what’s happening so they can equip themselves as appropriate”.
Apple is particularly vulnerable to the risks of dependence on China, as an estimated 80% of the world’s iPhones are made in a single Foxconn plant in Zhengzhou. This vulnerability was highlighted during the COVID-19 outbreak, when workers complained of a lack of food and medication, leading to violent protests and a cost of an estimated billion dollars per week for Apple.
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To diversify from China and ensure backup suppliers for every component, Apple has reportedly created tiger teams to reexamine its entire supply chain, down to the level of screws and plastic inserts. India is seen as Apple’s main hope for relocating production outside of China, with a report suggesting that a quarter of all iPhones could be made in India by 2025 and a later report indicating 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.