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Apple CEO Meets Vice Premier Who May Be Next China Leader

Apple’s Cook Meets China's Vice Premier
Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang (R) meets with the CEO of Apple, Tim Cook, in Beijing, the capital of China, March 27, 2012. Photographer: Rao Aimin/Xinhua Press/Corbis

Apple Inc. Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook met Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang, who may lead the nation’s government next year, in a second day of talks with officials in the company’s largest market outside the U.S.

Cook and Li had a “great meeting,” Carolyn Wu, a Beijing-based Apple spokeswoman, said in a telephone interview today. She declined to provide details of Cook’s talks yesterday or those with Beijing Mayor Guo Jinlong a day earlier.

The meeting with Li gives Cook a chance to build a personal connection with a leading candidate to replace Wen Jiabao as China’s premier next March, based on an assessment by Li Cheng, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Apple’s contact with Chinese officials also prompted criticism from creditors of the company Apple is battling for rights to the iPad trademark in China.

Cook is on a “political public relations campaign” for its legal battle over the trademark, Li Su, president of Hejun Vanguard Group, which represents creditors of the Shenzhen-based unit of Proview International Holdings Ltd., which claims to own the iPad trademark in China. The posts were confirmed in an e-mail by Huang Yiding, vice president at Hejun Vanguard.

Apple says it bought the rights to the trademark in China from Proview in 2009. A Shenzhen court last November ruled that Apple’s contract for the mark with a Taiwan sister company was invalid because the unit that owned the rights wasn’t included. Apple appealed that decision on Feb. 29 and a decision is due within three months.

“Proview is misleading Chinese courts and customers,” Wu said today when asked for comment on the remarks by Hejun Vanguard’s Li on Cook’s visit.

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