Apple CEO hopes apps pulled from China store will one day return

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However, In recent months, Apple has faced criticism from local users and rights groups for bowing to pressure from Beijing cyberregulators after it chose to remove hundreds of apps from its Chinese store, including Skype.

Cook delivered a keynote at the conference, where he revealed that app developers have earned $16.9 billion from using China's App Store, which is about a quarter of global earnings, according to Reuters.

As reported by the Washington Post, "The World Internet Conference held in the eastern Chinese city of Wuzhen is meant to promote China's vision of "cyber-sovereignty" - the idea that governments all over the world should have the right to control what appears on the Internet in their countries".

"I have great hope on that and great optimism", he added.

Apple counts China as its third-largest region by sales but it has lost market share in recent years as high-end handsets from local rivals continue to gain traction.

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The firm said earlier it had moved its Chinese cloud data onto the servers of a local partner in the Chinese province of Guizhou. Although the conference occurs annually in China, it's the first time such prominent tech executives from Silicon Valley have attended and given public comments.

Cook maintained that he believed that some apps removed from China's App Store will eventually be restored.

The two companies had a dispute earlier, but made peace after Apple started accepting WeChat payments from August this year as several apps on the Apple's app store were made by Tencent, which generated considerable revenue for both the firms.

Like Apple, he hinted at how Google helps the economy in China. "There are many small and medium-sized businesses in China who take advantage of Google to get their products to many other countries outside of China".