Apple CEO Tim Cook met with Chinese Vice Premier Ma Kai on Wednesday, and on the agenda was discussing the protection of user information. The meeting took place in Zhongnanhai in central Beijing, which is the central seat of power for the ruling Communist Party of China.
Xinhua, China’s official news authority, reported the meeting in brief, saying it was also a forum for Cook and Ma Kai to discuss “strengthening cooperation in information and communication fields.” The timing of the meeting indicates it is likely related to a recent attack on iCloud.com user security, however. The ‘man-in-the-middle’ attack was first reported by Great Fire, which pointed the finger squarely at the Chinese government as the responsible party.
Apple hasn’t officially commented on these attacks specifically, or laid any blame, and instead responded yesterday with an updated security document illustrating how users can identify and avoid ‘man-in-the-middle’ login and password phishing attempts using common major browsers. China has officially denied involvement in the attacks in comments made to the media.
Apple has come under fire in China by governing authorities via official media outlets before, including warnings to users against its security practices and other measures. China’s position suggests it would prefer users employ homegrown technologies, and the country’s consumers’ favouring Apple products obviously conflicts with that goal. Apple has typically responded to past Chinese authority run-ins with statements aimed to counter what has, until now, amounted mostly to exaggeration and misinformation.
The meeting might be the end of this particular incident, or we could see an official follow-up from Apple if the need to reassure users is deemed great enough. Suffice it to say, Greater China is one of Apple’s most important markets these days, so they’re not going to take this kind of thing lightly.