Apple made-in-China issue surfaces at presidential debate

Apple's strategy to make all of its marquee products in China triggered some sparring in the second presidential debate.

Workers at a Foxconn plant in China toil away at making Apple products. Apple

In the waning moments of the second presidential debate, CNN moderator Candy Crowley asked how Apple could bring manufacturing jobs to the U.S.

Crowley prefaced the question by saying that Apple makes the iPhone and iPad in China. Then asked how to get a company like Apple to make more products in the U.S., citing the iPhone and iPad as products made by Apple exclusively in China.

Mitt Romney was the first to respond. "First, we'll have to have [China] play on a fair basis...Second, we have to make America the most attractive place for entrepreneurs, people who want to expand a business, that's what brings jobs in."

Then Crowley interjected, saying the U.S. can't pay the low wages that Chinese workers get and President Obama responded to that comment.

"There are some jobs that are not going to come back. Because they're low-wage, low-skilled jobs. I want high-wage, high-skill jobs."

Obama continued. "That's why we have to emphasize manufacturing. That's why we have to invest in advanced manufacturing. That's why we have to make sure we have the best science and research in the world."

Then Obama's point veered off a bit to the government investment that's necessary to "create the next Apple, the next new innovation."

As a footnote, Lenovo, China's largest PC maker, said last week that it will assemble tablets, laptops, and desktops in North Carolina. So, creating high-tech-device product-assembly jobs in the U.S. is, apparently, not impossible.

About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.


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