Apple CEO Tim Cook expressed optimism about a handful of apps removed from China's App Store in a speech in Guangzhou.
Apple's shares were little changed on Wednesday morning after Apple CEO Tim Cook discussed Apple's performance in a speech in China.
Cook's speech touched on Chinese sales of the new iPhone X and controversy surrounding the removal of messaging apps from China's App Store.
Apple has received criticism after it removed some apps, like Skype and a few virtual private networks, from China's App Store at the request of the Chinese government.
US Sen. Patrick Leahy said that Apple did not do enough to promote free expression in China. "Tech companies must continue to push back on Chinese suppression of free expression," Leahy told CNBC. He warned that the company was not taking a strong stance in promoting "free expression and other basic human rights."
Yet Cook expressed confidence that some of the apps will eventually be reinstated, according to reports from Reuters.
"My hope over time is that some of the things, the couple of things that's been pulled, come back," he said at the Fortune Forum in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou. "I have great hope on that and great optimism on that," he said.
Cook said he was happy with iPhone X sales in China, which is Apple's third-largest region by sales, although the smartphone continues to be edged out by competitors.
Recently, Apple had a disagreement with Tencent Holdings, China's largest social network and gaming company, after Tencent decided to release apps within its own app ecosystem, completely circumventing the Apple store. The companies have since reconciled their differences. Apple's China App store now accepts WeChat payments.
Apple's stock is trading at $169.77 a share and is up 46% for the year.