Apple supplier Foxconn's founder Terry Gou had warned China that the government's zero-Covid stance would threaten the position of the world's second-largest economy in the global supply chain, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The appeal, sent by Gou in a letter more than a month ago, played a major role in convincing China's leadership to quickly reopen the economy and move away from its zero-tolerance Covid-19 policy, the report said on Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter.
Gou's office said in a statement that it "sternly denies" the facts in the report. Foxconn, which is the biggest assembler of iPhones, declined to comment, while China's State Council Information Office could not be immediately reached for comment.
Gou retired from Foxconn in 2019 and has no formal role within the company any more, though remains influential.
The Taiwan-based company's Zhengzhou plant, which saw a month-long unrest in November, has lifted its "closed-loop" management curbs on Thursday.
The Zhengzhou plant had been grappling with strict Covid restrictions that fuelled discontent among workers over factory conditions, triggering an 11.4% year-on-year drop in November revenue.
Some Wall Street analysts cut their iPhone shipment targets for the all-important holiday quarter as a result of turmoil at the major iPhone factory.
Chinese health officials and government advisers seized on Gou's letter to bolster the case that the government needed to speed up its efforts to ease its tough Covid-19 controls, the report added.