Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook has accepted a board position at a Chinese business school, less than two weeks after his company decided to ban an app used by protesters in Hong Kong.
Mr Cook has been named the chairman of Tsinghua University’s School of Economics and Management and will remain in the post for three years, as spotted by Apple Insider.
Although Mr Cook, 58, is an accomplished businessman and has headed Apple since 2011, the appointment comes at a time when the company’s relationship with China is under intense scrutiny.
The university itself is considered very close to power in China as the alma mater of a group of Chinese Communist Party politicians including president Xi Jinping known as the Tsinghua clique.
Apple has come under scrutiny since deciding to ban an app popular among Hong Kong protesters from the AppStore earlier in the month, which was being used to help the protesters avoid water cannon fire, ID checks and tear gas, as they kept up weeks-long demonstrations.
Following the app’s ban a joint letter was issued by a bipartisan group of politicians in the US, including Democrat representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Republican senator Ted Cruz, criticising Apple.
The letter called on the company to “demonstrate that Apple puts values above market access, and to stand with the brave men and women fighting for basic rights and dignity in Hong Kong”.
Apple’s key product, the iPhone, is almost entirely produced in China. The company’s chief executive has also pleaded with President Trump to seek a truce with China over his trade war.
At the time the company said it conducted an investigation into the app, after “many concerned customers in Hong Kong” had contacted them with complaints, and found it to violate its rules.
Apple said: “The app displays police locations and we have verified with the Hong Kong Cybersecurity and Technology Crime Bureau that the app has been used to target and ambush police, threaten public safety, and criminals have used it to victimise residents in areas where they know there is no law enforcement.”
“This app violates our guidelines and local laws, and we have removed it from the App Store.”
A Twitter account believed to be owned by the developers of HKmap.live said that there was no evidence that Hong Kong police were being ambushed.
“The majority of user review in App Store that suggest HKmap IMPROVED public safety, not the opposite,” it said, adding that the app did not promote criminal activity.
A spokesperson for Apple was not immediately able to respond to Sky News’ request for comment.