China denies reports of ban on iPhones

Chinese officials have dismissed reports of a ban on state employees using iPhones and other foreign-made communication equipment. However, Beijing does say it has concerns about Apple devices.

Chinese government addresses iPhone ban rumors, says no official ban in place (photo: DW)
Chinese government addresses iPhone ban rumors, says no official ban in place (photo: DW)


The Chinese foreign ministry on Wednesday, 13 September said it had not banned iPhones and other foreign mobile devices in government and state companies, in response to recent media reports.

However, the ministry did say it had noted media exposure of security incidents related to the Apple smartphones.

Just the rumor of Chinese restrictions, stemming from two media reports last week in the US, had sent Apple's shares tumbling.

What the foreign ministry said

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning told a regular press conference there was no ban on officials purchasing or using foreign phones, including iPhones.

"China has not issued laws, regulations or policy documents that prohibit the purchase and use of foreign brand phones such as Apple's," Mao said.

However, the official did say there had been a string of security incidents that had stoked concern.

"The Chinese government attaches a great importance to information and cybersecurity, and treats both domestic and foreign-funded enterprises in the same way and on an equal footing," Mao said.

He added that Beijing hoped all mobile phone companies would strictly abide by its laws and regulations, as well as "strengthen information security management."

Reports of restrictions led to run on Apple shares

Shares in Apple slumped last week after reports that China had placed significant restrictions on iPhones at government offices and state-backed entities.

A report that China had banned the use of Apple smartphones in central government agencies initially surfaced in the Wall Street Journal.

Bloomberg News later reported that China had broadened the ban to government-backed agencies and state companies — a substantial prohibition given China's centrally planned economy.

The reports came after several Western countries introduced measures to curb the proliferation of Chinese technology, particularly in state sectors.

Washington has banned tech giant Huawei from supplying US government systems and strongly discouraged its use in the private sector over fears that security could be compromised.

Britain barred the use of the part Chinese owned TikTok social media app on government phones in March this year, and in 2020 it said it would ban Huawei from its 5G network.

iPhones are assembled in three countries — China, Vietnam and India — with China Apple's best established base among the three.

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Published: 14 Sep 2023, 9:34 AM