A month after Apple revealed its plan to open its first China-based data center in Guizhou, the Guizhou provincial government announced today (in Chinese) that it is setting up a “leading small group” dedicated to advancing Apple’s iCloud project.
This marks another step forward for the Apple-Guizhou data collaboration run by Guizhou-Cloud Big Data Industry, a data management firm with backing from the Guizhou government. The announcement, released on the website of Guizhou Provincial People’s Government, says that the leading small group will “plan and advance the landing and building of Apple’s iCloud project, deepen collaboration with Apple, meet to advance the project upon circumstances, and solve key issues arising from the project.”
Guizhou, located in the southwestern hinterland of China, is ideal for setting up a data center. “Naturally, it is immune to solar storm and sunspot activity. Socially, it is so remote that crimes and attacks are rare. Its mild average temperature also yields lower energy consumption,” a government official from the state security unit told TechNode.
After China enacted a new law in June (in Chinese) requiring companies to store user data in the country, Apple followed the footsteps of Amazon, Microsoft, and IBM who had already formed partnerships with Chinese companies to offer China-based cloud computing services.
Apple’s move has raised concerns over Chinese users’ data privacy. In response, Apple told the New York Times that the new systems will not create ways for the government or other organizations to get around Apple’s encryption protecting the data. Rather, its new gesture is a sign of complying with Chinese laws.
In addition, Apple says its Chinese data center will “improve the speed and reliability” of its products and services. This means, for instance, Chinese users will have a smoother experience syncing data to iCloud. China has been a sore spot for Apple in the past year, as its Q3 financial results (in Chinese) show that the company posted sixth quarter sales drop in greater China while local competitors like Huawei and Xiaomi were closing in fast.
Apple has taken steps to regain momentum in the region, from appointing its first China head, launching a large Apple Pay promotion, to other law-abiding acts like removing VPN apps from its China App Store.