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Apple's Jeff Williams is in Taiwan for Foxconn's 50th anniversary

Apple COO Jeff Williams

Apple Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams has traveled to Taiwan, on a trip to mark the 50th anniversary of Foxconn.

Foxconn held a gala celebration in Taipei on Tuesday night, as part of its celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the company's operation. Representing Apple, a major client of the assembler, COO Jeff Williams made an appearance as a guest of honor.

Williams was joined by Apple SVP of operations Sabih Khan, people familiar with the event told Bloomberg. Also in attendance at the private event were SoftBank Group CEO Masayoshi Son and ARM Holidings chief Rene Haas.

Taiwan Vice Premier Cheng Wen-tsan and Minister of Economic Affairs Wang Mei-hua were also there, with Chairman Young Liu hosting.

The appearance of Williams as a representative of Apple is quite a rare occurrence, with his last public appearance in Taiwan coinciding with the 30th-anniversary celebration of TSMC in 2017.

While CEO Tim Cook would normally be the face of Apple at major events such as this, the tensions between Taiwan and China make doing so difficult without causing unrest. The CEO has gone to great lengths to maintain good relations with China, praising the country that houses a lot of its manufacturing operations.

Cook has largely avoided Taiwan in an official capacity in over a decade, and last did so in 2008 for the wedding of Foxconn founder Terry Gou. Gou stepped down in 2019, commenting at the time a wish for Apple to move more production to Taiwan, ahead of an attempt to become the Taiwanese president.

As tech leaders try to perform low-key visits to Taiwan to avoid retribution from China, Williams' attendance instead of Cook may be Apple's compromise.