Apple is building a $45 million research facility in Beijing, the Wall Street Journal reports, focusing on the creation of new hardware. The company’s first Chinese research center will employ 500 people and will develop computer hardware, communications, audio, and visual equipment, the Zhongguancun Science Park Administrative Committee said in a post on social media, shedding more light on Chinese expansion plans that CEO Tim Cook first detailed last month.
Tim Cook promised to invest more in China during a visit to the country in August, pledging to open such a research and development facility in the country in 2016. Apple declined to comment to the Wall Street Journal about the planned facility, which is reportedly set to be placed in a new science park in Beijing’s Wangjing district, but it would be the latest in a string of investments the company has made in the country in an effort to shore up sliding sales, including $1 billion in Didi Chuxing, a ride-hailing app seen as China’s Uber.
China has been both a base of manufacture for Apple’s devices and an important market for their sale, but Apple has faced a turbulent time in the country lately. Chinese authorities shut down the iBooks and iTunes Movies services earlier this year — a move that reportedly prompted Tim Cook’s first of two visits to the country in one year to smooth over relations with government officials. Despite these issues, Cook said in August that Apple remained “very optimistic about the long-term opportunities in Greater China,” and that it would continue to invest there. This new R&D facility certainly seems to be proof of that plan.[The Verge]