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Apple is still heavily reliant on China despite escalating tension with US

Published Apr 26th, 2024 8:11AM EDT
Apple customers in an Apple Store
Image: VCG/VCG via Getty Images

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These past few weeks have highlighted the escalating tension between the US and China. Still, Apple and its CEO, Tim Cook, are doing everything to keep their relations with the two countries on good terms.

The US, of course, is Apple’s homeland. And China is the company’s core for manufacturing products. While the Communist country has ordered Cupertino to ban WhatsApp, Telegram, and other messaging apps, the US has been accusing China of espionage through TikTok, and President Joe Biden just signed a bill that requires ByteDance to either sell its business or leave the US.

In the meantime, Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, visited Asian countries more frequently. In addition to visits to China, Cook has also been to Vietnam, Singapore, and other countries responsible for manufacturing Apple products.

Still, even with Cupertino trying to diversify its supply chain in other countries, its ties with China are still very deep. According to a report of Apple’s latest list of suppliers obtained by Nikkei Asia, Apple now has 52 suppliers in China from 48 in 2022. China’s manufacturing facilities have also grown by 10 to 286.

The publication shows that Apple has indeed diversified its supply chain, as suppliers operating in Vietnam increased 40% to 35 last year, while in Thailand, the number grew by a third to 24. Still, as Nikkei Asia points out, the “growing footprint in India and Southeast Asia does not necessarily translate to a reduced reliance on China.”

After all, 37% of the 35 suppliers in Vietnam are from China and Hong Kong, including long-time partners Luxshare, Goertek, and BYD. With that, China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan dominate Apple’s supply chain. While the US is just behind the other countries, Apple knows it couldn’t move its entire manufacturing to the country.

Even with TSMC investing billions of dollars in US plants, the manufacturer won’t produce its newest, crazy tech chips in America. With that, Apple’s latest and greatest products will continue to rely on the Chinese supply chain.

José Adorno Tech News Reporter

José is a Tech News Reporter at BGR. He has previously covered Apple and iPhone news for 9to5Mac, and was a producer and web editor for Latin America broadcaster TV Globo. He is based out of Brazil.