Apple CEO Tim Cook told the media on Friday that he had “very open” talks on privacy and security with a senior Chinese official. This comes in days after a web monitoring group linked the government to a hack into Apple’s iCloud service in China. Cook’s statement, made in an interview to the Chinese official Xinhua news agency, were his first public comments since meeting Vice Premier Ma Kai in Beijing on Wednesday.

China visit of Cook has been overshadowed by a report by web monitoring group, which alleged the Chinese government was involved in a sophisticated and widespread hacking attack on Apple users in China. The government has strongly refuted the allegations, saying it has been a victim of hacker attacks itself.

The interview of Cook with Xinhua made no mention of the attack. Asked about the Greatfire report, Apple has said it is “aware of intermittent organized network attacks” without giving details. He also told Xinhua that one of Apple’s priorities for China was to introduce the newly launched Apple Pay mobile payments service, and that he was still seeking to understand the steps needed to do so.

“China is a really key market for us,” Cook told Xinhua. “Everything we do, we are going to work it here. Apple Pay is on the top of the list.” Chinese media had reported last month that Apple was close to a deal with China’s Unionpay card network to launch Apple Pay in the world’s most populous country.

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