Tim Cook opens Weibo account in China

Apple CEO Tim Cook has greeted Chinese fans on the country's largest chat service Weibo, signalling the US technology giant's determination to strengthen ties with its largest overseas market.

"Hello China! Happy to be back in Beijing, announcing innovative new environmental programs," Apple's CEO Tim Cook posted on his brand new Sina Weibo account on Monday afternoon.

Cook's Weibo account, verified as "Apple CEO" by Sina, attracted over 300,000 followers in just three hours. The greeting message has been forwarded over 26,000 times, drawing more than 34,000 comments during those three hours.

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Cook signed up just a week after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi did the same. In comparison, Modi's post was instantly forwarded more than 4,700 times and got over 6,800 comments within three hours of being posted.

The CEO of the Cupertino-based technology giant is currently paying a visit to Beijing, reportedly in order to ink a deal with World Wildlife Fund to manage as many as 1 million acres of forests across the country. Apple plans to fund the five-year project to plant trees and make paper, using less land and water in China.

Monthly active users on Weibo have exceeded 167 million as of the end of September 2014, a report showed. Cook didn't follow anyone on Weibo. The greeting message on the popular Chinese social platform was sent out via an iPhone 6, according to his account.

On Monday, IDC data showed that Apple has overtaken Xiaomi to become the largest smartphone vendor in China for the first time, despite smartphone shipments in the country registering a decline for the first time in six years.

Apple's market share lifted to 14.7 percent in the first quarter, a surge from the 8.7 percent registered for the same period last year. On the contrary, its major South Korean rival Samsung's share in China slumped to 9.7 percent from 19.9 percent last year, and has been edged out of the top three brands.

Cook, in comparison to his predecessor Steve Jobs, weighs the Chinese market as having greater importance, according to a Sina news report.

Since Cook was appointed to the post of Apple CEO in 2011, he has visited China five times, and China has begun being included among the first batch of countries for selling newly released products like the iPhone 5s and 5c, as well as the Apple Watch.

The Chinese market will likely contribute the most revenue to Apple in the future -- it is just a matter of time, Cook told Chinese media during his visit to China in October 2014.

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