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China bans iPhones for gov’t officials at work: Report

A first-generation iPhone. (Carl Berkeley/Flickr)
September 06, 2023

China has reportedly ordered central government officials not to use Apple’s iPhones or other devices produced by foreign brands for work.

According to The Wall Street Journal, sources familiar with the ban said Chinese officials were recently given the instructions in meetings or chat groups as part of China’s effort to reduce the country’s reliance on technology produced by foreign countries.

While The Wall Street Journal said it is unclear how widespread the government orders are, the messages were communicated to government employees at various central government regulators.

China’s ban could have a major impact on foreign technology brands in the country, especially Apple. According to The Wall Street Journal, Apple currently dominates high-end smartphone sales in China, with roughly 19% of the company’s revenue stemming from the Chinese economy.

While China has restricted certain officials from using Apple’s iPhones for government work in the past, sources told The Wall Street Journal that the government’s order has now been expanded. The move reflects similar bans in the United States against government officials using TikTok and Huawei Technologies.

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The Wall Street Journal reported that Chinese President Xi Jinping has been pushing for increased government control over digital activities and information for years as both China and the United States have placed an emphasis on national security. The Chinese government unveiled an update in July for its anti-espionage law, giving the government even more control over digital activities.

Instead of relying on foreign brands of technology, the Chinese government has placed an emphasis on utilizing computers and software developed by Chinese companies that can be more easily controlled by Beijing.

In the past, Apple has been able to navigate the technology tension between the United States and China, thriving in both markets. Most of Apple’s products are currently assembled in China, with the company employing millions of people in China. According to The Wall Street Journal, Apple has also remained in compliance with China’s regulations on digital freedom by removing thousands of apps from the company’s app store that were deemed illegal by Chinese officials.

This was a breaking news story. The details were periodically updated as more information became available.