China confirms that its digital economy accounts for almost a third of gross domestic product, according to a report unveiled in the eastern city of Wuzhen during the fourth World Internet Conference where it declared that Chinese cyberspace is "open" - but subject to controls for the greater good.
Apple is facing criticism from local users and rights groups for bowing to pressure from Beijing cyber regulators after it made a decision to remove dozens of apps from its Chinese store this year, including messaging apps and virtual private network (VPN) services, which help users subvert China's Great Firewall. Cook said that he strongly believes in freedom.
Speaking at the Fortune Forum in China, Apple's chief executive officer Tim Cook expressed his strong belief in freedom of expression.
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.
Apple also recently said it had moved its Chinese cloud data onto the servers of a local partner in the Chinese province of Guizhou.
"We have been notified by the Ministry of Public Security that a number of voice over internet protocol apps do not comply with local law, therefore these apps have been removed from the App Store in China", an Apple spokeswoman said at the time, according to Reuters.
Cook has come to China several times this year, including an October visit where he was among executives that met with President Xi Jinping, who also had prepared remarks read at the conference on Sunday.
The report released on Monday by the Chinese Academy of Cyberspace Studies, said China's digital economy reached 22.58 trillion yuan ($3.4 trillion) in 2016. "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".