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

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Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google CEO Sundar Pichai were surprise guests at Sunday's World Internet Conference in China, which aims to promote China's version of the internet.

Speaking at the Fortune Forum in Guangzhou on Wednesday, Cook also stressed that he believes strongly in freedoms, in comments after a United States democratic senator's remarks on Tuesday that Apple had a moral obligation to promote free expression. The "messaging apps and virtual private network (VPN) services ... help [ed] users subvert China's Great Firewall". "Global leaders in innovation, like Apple, have both an opportunity and a moral obligation to promote free expression and other basic human rights in countries that routinely deny these rights", Leahy said in a statement to CNBC on Tuesday.

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Yet Cook expressed confidence that some of the apps will eventually be reinstated, according to reports from Reuters. "My hope over time is that some of the things, the couple of things that's been pulled, come back. I have great hope on that and great optimism on that", Cook said at the Fortune Forum in Guangzhou, China.

Cook said he was happy with iPhone X sales in China, which is Apple's third-largest region by sales, although the smartphone continues to be edged out by competitors. Ironically, Cook admitted in an earnings call in August that Apple was forced to remove VPN apps from its App Store in China after government pressure. The companies have since reconciled their differences. And AAPL stock is down about 0.2% in mid-day trading as a result.

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