China has not issued a ban on the buying and use of foreign phone brands, the Chinese foreign ministry said in response to media reports that said some government agencies and firms had told staff to stop using Apple’s iPhones at work.
On Wednesday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that reports that some government agencies and firms as well as state-owned enterprises had told staff to stop using iPhones at work were unfounded.
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“China has not issued laws, regulations or policy documents that prohibit the purchase and use of foreign brand phones such as Apple’s,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning told a regular media briefing when asked about the reports.
Reuters recently reported that China had widened existing curbs on the use of iPhones by state employees, telling staff at some central government agencies to stop using their Apple mobiles at work.
The news caused concern among Apple investors, as the world’s second-largest economy is a major market for the US tech company.
In refuting the reports, the ministry spokeswoman also noted that “many media outlets” had uncovered security vulnerabilities related to iPhone use.
“But recently, we did notice a lot of media exposure of security incidents related to Apple’s phones. The Chinese government attaches great importance to information and cybersecurity and treats both domestic and foreign companies as equals,” she added.
Mao added that all mobile phone companies operating in the People’s Republic of China must abide by the applicable laws.
The supposed ban has coincided with rising tensions between Beijing and Washington, and signalled growing challenges for Apple, which relies heavily on China for revenue growth and manufacturing.
Tensions between the US and China have been rising and early last month, President Joe Biden signed an executive order to impose blocks and regulations on US high-tech investment in China, reflecting the intensifying competition between the world’s two largest economies.
China has also increasingly emphasised using locally made tech products, as technology has become a major national security issue for Beijing and Washington.
Apple, meanwhile, has faced a threat from Chinese tech giant Huawei, which recently launched its latest flagship smartphone, the Mate 60 Pro.
The phone reportedly has enough power and speed to rival the iPhone and has been selling briskly in China.
Huawei has been low-key about the device, but its capabilities have raised concerns that China has been able to circumvent US curbs on Huawei that stop it from acquiring high-tech components like advanced processor chips that had effectively crippled its smartphone business.