Proview slams Tim Cook for meeting Chinese politicians ahead of iPad ruling

As we reported on Monday, Apple CEO Tim Cook was on a China tour recently. He posed for iFan shots at the company’s retail store inside Joy City, a Xidan, Beijing shopping mall. While the real purpose of his visit to the 1.33 billion people country (emerging as Apple’s most important market) remains shrouded in secrecy, it does coincide with the Proview situation and an upcoming iPad launch in China.

According to a pair of news articles, Cook also met with local politicians to talk “intellectual-property issues”. The meetings were “great”, a spokesperson for the company said. However, Proview representatives were quick to slam Cook for conducting a “political public relations campaign”.

As you know, the embattled display maker Proview is suing Apple over the rights to use the iPad moniker in China, where Apple has yet to introduce its third-generation tablet. Shenzen courts are expected to rule on Apple’s latest appeal on the iPad trademark within 90 days.

Bloomberg explains that Cook met with Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang and Beijing Mayor Guo Jinlong. According to Apple spokesperson Carolyn Wu, Cook and Li had a “great meeting”.

The meeting with Li gives Cook a chance to build a personal connection with a leading candidate to replace Wen Jiabao as China’s premier next March, based on an assessment by Li Cheng, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

The Wall Street Journal fills in the gaps, reporting that Cook and Li were discussing “intellectual-property issues and greater cooperation”, quoting state media reports.

In its evening news broadcast on Wednesday, state-run China Central Television showed Mr. Li meeting with Mr. Cook at Zhongnanhai, the closely guarded compound here that houses China’s top leaders. It is a setting that senior Chinese officials often use for visiting foreign dignitaries and projects an image of growing ties between the gadget maker and the country that makes—and, increasingly, buys—its products. Mr. Li, currently China’s vice premier, is expected to succeed Premier Wen Jiabao next year as part of a broad once-a-decade leadership change.

Needles to say, Proview’s creditors accused the CEO of a “political public relations campaign” meant to influence the decision of the Shenzen courts over who gets to use the iPad moniker in China.

To this, Wu replied that “Proview is misleading Chinese courts and customers”.

Truth be told, it does sound like Cook discussed Proview with Chinese politicians. No matter how you look at it, it in fact is hard to escape the notion that there’s more to Cook’s Chinese tour than meets the eye.

I’d assume Cook probably met with Foxconn founder and CEO Terry Gou to talk the specifics of that Sharp deal that some people think is for Apple-branded HD TVs.

What about your two cents?