After iPhone 15 launch, Chinese iPhone ban denied, but ‘security incidents’ claimed


A day after the iPhone 15 launch, the situation regarding a reported Chinese iPhone ban is, if anything, less clear than it was beforehand – and that’s probably not accidental.

The Chinese government has now said that it has not banned either the purchase or use of iPhones, but made reference to claimed ‘security incidents’ related to Apple devices …

The confusion began last week, when the WSJ reported that Chinese citizens working for the government had been banned from using all foreign smartphones, and other tech devices.

iPhone and other foreign technology devices have been banned for use in Chinese government agencies. Workers are no longer allowed to use these devices for work, or even bring them into the office premises.

This is a significant expansion of a longstanding Beijing policy, which aims to cut reliance on foreign technology amid foreign cybersecurity threats.

While no specific foreign brand was singled out, the iPhone has been the market leader in the premium smartphone market in China ever since US tech sanctions made it difficult for Huawei to make 5G models.

A subsequent report said that the restrictions were being ramped up even further.

The report explains that China is planning to extend its ban on iPhones to a wide array of “state-owned enterprises and other government-controlled organizations. According to Bloomberg, this crackdown comes as China ramps up its efforts to “root out foreign technology use in sensitive environments” and “reduce its reliance on American software and circuitry.”

There had even been speculation that China Mobile might not offer the iPhone 15 for sale, though the company denied this.

Chinese iPhone ban denied

China has now issued a new statement, denying that it has imposed a ban, but claiming that there have been ‘reports’ of ‘security incidents’ relating to iPhones. Business Standard reports.

“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 press briefing when asked about the reports.

“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 cyber security and treats both domestic and foreign companies as equals,” she added.

9to5Mac’s Take

It’s pretty clear that this is politicking, with Apple an unfortunate victim of the diplomatic battle between US and Chinese governments.

US sanctions prevent advanced American tech being sold to China, as well as limiting the use of Chinese tech by US government agencies. That’s badly hurting Chinese tech companies, not just in terms of exports, but domestic production too. Huawei’s inability to buy 5G radio chips is the main reason its smartphones are now struggling to compete with iPhones.

China is hitting back by either outright banning the use of iPhones within government agencies, or at the very least making managers and workers alike feel uncomfortable being seen to use them.

The message is clear: you hurt us, and we’ll hurt the most successful US company.

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