Chinese official denies reports Beijing ordered a ban on government staff using, or bringing into work, Apple iPhones
China has rejected a number of media reports that it has implemented a ban government workers’ use of Apple iPhones.
Last week The Wall Street Journal had reported that central government agencies had been ordered not to use iPhones for work or bring them into the office.
At one stage this caused Apple’s share price to experience its largest daily loss in a month. Matters were not helped by another media report that the Chinese ban may also be imposed on staff at state-owned companies and government-backed organisations.
Now CNN reported a Chinese government spokesperson as saying on Wednesday that China hasn’t issued any laws or rules to ban the use of iPhones or any other foreign phone brand.
“We have always been open to foreign companies and welcome them to seize the opportunities and share the fruits of China’s economic development,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Mao Ning was quoted by CNN as saying at a press conference in Beijing.
She added that China has noticed “many media reports on the security incidents of Apple’s iPhone,” and that the country “attaches great importance to information and cyber security.”
Mao did not elaborate, CNN reported. She also urged foreign mobile phone companies in China to follow the country’s privacy laws and to prevent “any person or organisation” stealing data stored in their customers’ phones.
The White House had said on Wednesday it was watching the developments with “concern.”
“It seems to be a piece of the kinds of aggressive and inappropriate retaliation to US companies that we’ve seen from the PRC in the past, that’s what this appears to be,” John Kirby, National Security Council spokesman, was quoted as telling reporters during a news conference, referring to the People’s Republic of China.
“But the truth is, we don’t have perfect visibility on exactly what they’re doing and why, and we certainly would call on them to be more transparent about what they’re seeing and what they’re doing,” he said.
China has been hitting back at a number of western tech firms after the US and the west ramped up its sanctions and trade restrictions against Beijing.
In March for example, Chinese authorities closed the Beijing office of Mintz Group, an American corporate due diligence firm, and detained five of its local staff, CNN reported. The company was apparently later fined about $1.5 million for allegedly conducting unapproved statistical work in the country.
In April, CNN reported that Chinese police had questioned staff at the Shanghai offices of consulting firm Bain & Company.
A few weeks later, state media released details of multiple raids on the offices of Capvision, an international expert network firm with headquarters in Shanghai and New York, by state security forces.
Then in May Beijing banned some key domestic industries from purchasing chips from US memory chipmaker Micron over national security concerns.
Meanwhile China also plans to launch a $40 billion state-backed investment fund for the under pressure semiconductor sector in China.
Earlier this week Apple had launched its iPhone 15 portfolio, which confirmed the end of the Lightning port and the adoption of USB-C going forward.