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Tim Cook speaks out against Trump-style national isolation

Commentary: In a speech in China, Apple's CEO says that although globalization hasn't been good for everyone, isolation isn't good for a country's people.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.

Apple CEO Tim Cook

He's for a big world.

Getty Images

America is entering a new era of so-called economic nationalism.

This seems to involve putting America first, drifting away from some alliances, and not funding Meals on Wheels.

Not everyone has yet embraced this new national go-it-alone spirit. Apple's Tim Cook, for example, believes it has its downsides.

As The Wall Street Journal reports, Cook gave a speech in China on Saturday, one that trumpeted a different world order.

He said globalism "in general is great for the world." Some might say that in general it's great for Apple to make its products cheaply in China and sell them at a huge margin in the US and elsewhere.

But back to Cook. He clearly seems worried about any movement away from globalization.

"I think the worst thing would be to -- because it didn't help everyone --is to say it's bad and do less of that," he said. "I think the reality is you can see that countries in the world...that isolate themselves -- it's not good for their people."

Yes, it's easy to believe that the people, of, say, North Korea aren't quite as happy as the people of, say, Denmark.

Indeed, as German Chancellor Angela Merkel said during a White House press conference Friday: "It's always better to talk to one another than about one another."

In that same press conference, President Donald Trump insisted: "I'm not an isolationist. I'm a free trader but I'm also a fair trader." Ah, if only the whole world could agree on what is fair.

For Cook's Apple, as for many global companies, the ability to take advantage of worldwide free trade is vital.

Indeed, during his visit to China, Apple pledged that it would invest $500 million in two new research centers there.

Trumpists might wonder how many jobs this might take away from America. Neither the White House nor Apple responded to a request for comment.

Companies such as Apple are now as firmly entrenched in politics as the government is in business. Sadly, everyone will have their own partisan way of calculating which country benefits most and how.

Soon, we'll all be tired of winning. We just won't be sure how much we've won and how we've won it.

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