Apple CEO Tim Cook is in China this week, as the company seeks to boost its image there after two rough quarter of iPhone sales.
Chinese state media reported that during a meeting with Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli, Cook said Apple would be opening a new research center in China within the next year. Though the size of the center and the number of jobs were not specified, Reuters reports that the new facility will bring together Apple’s engineering and operations teams in China.
Apple also announced today that Lens Technology, which supplies glass for Apple products, has agreed to transition all of its Apple-related operations to renewable energy. Apple has, in general, been pressing its suppliers and partners in China to move toward greener standards to reduce waste and pollution in a country that often has high levels of both.
“We want to show the world that you can manufacture responsibly, and we’re working alongside our suppliers to help them lower their environmental impact in China,” said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives, in a statement. “We congratulate Lens for their bold step and hope by sharing the lessons we’ve learned in our transition to renewable energy, our suppliers will continue to access clean power projects, moving China closer to its green manufacturing goals.”
In his five years as CEO, Cook has made Apple’s relationship with China a high priority. He was the first Apple CEO to visit, amid controversy over treatment of employees by the companies that build Apple’s gadgets. He has also expanded the number of Apple Stores in the region from 4 to 41. And he finally managed to sign a deal with China Mobile — the country’s largest carrier — that super-charged iPhone sales.
Now Cook is back in China for the second time in four months, according to Reuters. The latest goodwill tour comes after Apple saw its sales plunge in the country by 30 percent in the most recent quarter. This is generally attributed to lower-cost Android competitors gaining favor with consumers. The company has also been battling Chinese regulators over questions like security and content rights, and the government shut down sales of iTunes books and movies earlier this year.
Earlier this year, Apple made a $1 billion investment in Chinese ridesharing giant Didi Chuxing, which subsequently acquired rival Uber’s business in that country.