Apple adds suppliers in China despite efforts to spread out production, underscoring country’s major supply chain role

Apple adds suppliers in China despite efforts to spread out production, underscoring country’s major supply chain role

Apple added eight Chinese suppliers and removed four contractors on the mainland during its past financial year ended September, the first time since 2021 that the US tech giant introduced more suppliers from the country than it cut, according to its newly published supplier list.

Despite Apple’s recent efforts to diversify its supply chain and shift more production elsewhere in Asia amid geopolitical risks, mainland China remains the firm’s main manufacturing base, home to over a third of the factories run by its 187 disclosed suppliers, according to a Post analysis.

A total of 157 contractors conducted manufacturing in mainland China, up from 151 the previous year. The list represents 98 per cent of Apple’s direct spending on materials, manufacturing and assembly of its products worldwide. Data on each supplier’s production value and capacity was not disclosed.

Chinese suppliers remain key to Apple, according to CEO Tim Cook, who went on a charm offensive in the country last month. In an interview with state media China Daily, he was quoted as saying “there’s no supply chain in the world that’s more critical to us than China”.

Apple CEO Tim Cook, centre, at the China Development Forum in Beijing last month. Photo: AFP

Apple’s newly added mainland suppliers include Baoji Titanium Industry, an alloy manufacturer based in western Shaanxi province that counts aircraft makers like Boeing and Airbus as clients and also serves the shipbuilding sector.

Another addition was San’an Optoelectronics, a display technology company based in Xiamen city in southeastern Fujian province. It is believed to be supplying mini-LED chips for Apple’s iPad Pro and MacBook Pro, according to Chinese media.

Other additions include Shenzhen BSC Technology, which provides smart manufacturing solutions, Zhejiang Tony Electronic, which specialises in semiconductor materials, and Jiuquan Iron & Steel.

Apple, which is known to adjust its contractor list every year based on reasons such as quality issues and environmental concerns, also signed back three Chinese suppliers that were previously dropped.

They were smart electronics devices solutions provider Jones Tech, metal and plastic chassis assembler Zhenghe Group and printing and packaging company Paishing Technology.

Mainland China accounts for the lion’s share of Apple’s 13 new suppliers last year. Two were from Taiwan, while Japan, Norway and India each contributed one.

Still, Apple has been working to reduce its reliance on Chinese suppliers by increasing production in South and Southeast Asia.

Tata Electronics, an arm of India’s salt-to-steel conglomerate Tata Group, made its debut on Apple’s latest supplier list.

While the country contributes just under 2 per cent of the factories where Apple’s suppliers conduct manufacturing, its shipments are skyrocketing.

iPhone exports from India are set to nearly double to US$12.1 billion this financial year from US$6.27 billion a year earlier, according to intelligence firm The Trade Vision.



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