Apple was roundly criticized for having its CEO Tim Cook attend the State-run World Internet Conference in China.

The event was organised by the Cyberspace Administration of China, well known for its censorship activities in the country. The agency was responsible for pushing Google out of the country, as well as blocking Facebook’s entry.

It was not just the presence of Tim Cook at the state-run internet conference that was the problem. The core issue was that Apple, known for forcefully arguing the “how it wants to protect customer data” case, decided to pull 674 virtual private network apps, or VPNs, from the App Store in China this year at the request of the Chinese government.

But Tim Cook presented a whole new twist to Apple’s continued embrace of China’s regulations. Indeed, he was masterful, because you don’t really have a logical argument against it.

“When you go into a country and participate in a market, you are subject to the laws and regulations of that country,” Mr. Cook said at the Fortune Global Forum on Wednesday in Guangzhou.

“Your choice is, do you participate or do you stand on the sideline and yell at how things should be,” Mr. Cook said. “My own view very strongly is you show up and you participate, you get in the arena, because nothing ever changes from the sideline.”

So he is arguing that “if we are going to work from a country” we will have to abide by the law.

But what if some government from some country, some day in the future, asks for user data, will Apple be more than happy to provide that because it is the rule of the land?

Not really. Unless it’s China. Because, after all, it’s the second largest market for Apple.

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