Apple is in an interesting double-edged position in any dealings with China as it is one of its largest markets plus it directly supports about 3 million jobs there in electronics assembly and supply chain. Any tariff escalation could make iPhones more expensive or force it to eat the difference, plus negative attitudes towards America are already making the Chinese switch further to local brands out of sheer patriotism.
Thus, Tim Cook is uniquely positioned to provide valuable insights on how to balance China's tactics with the business realities of American companies. Moreover, he doesn't snub meetings with the President or government officials on some ideological Silicon Valley grounds, adds one official, and addresses the communication simply as help to navigate the tricky business relationships with China:
Needless to say, there are already people disappointed with the China deal even before it is announced, as according to them it gives too much away or doesn't punish for previous behavior, but the same is true for the other side. Chinese trade negotiators are reportedly facing some backlash at home for the same accusations, too, and still have to sell the comprehensive arrangement, but that both parts would walk away mildly disappointed is a telltale sign of successful negotiations - at least that is what business books say - and Apple's CEO may have been instrumental in avoiding a costly trade war with China.