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China bans iPads and MacBooks from government use in clampdown on US companies

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Microsoft, Symantec, and Qualcomm also targeted as China reduces reliance on foreign companies

China’s hostility towards US technology companies is escalating this week with a ban on government use of Apple’s iPads and MacBooks. Bloomberg reports that up to 10 Apple products have been removed from a Chinese government procurement list last month over security concerns related to their usage. The latest move follows similar bans on products from US firms Microsoft and Symantec.

Microsoft’s latest Windows 8 operating system was banned from Chinese government computers recently, catching the software maker by surprise. Microsoft’s Chinese offices were also raided recently over monopoly allegations, and a Chinese government agency is also investigating American technology company Qualcomm for potential antitrust issues.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for his country to become a technology leader and to develop its own software and technologies. "Only if core technologies are in our own hands can we truly hold the initiative in competition and development," said Jinping in a June meeting. "Only then can we fundamentally ensure our national economic security, defense security and other aspects of security. We cannot always dress up other people’s yesterdays as our own tomorrows."

US and China fight over spying allegations

China’s increased attention to US companies also follows months of revelations from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden detailing the US government’s surveillance activities. The NSA reportedly built backdoors into Chinese telecom giant Huawei's communications equipment, and the Chinese government has demanded that the US puts an end to its spying practices. The US government has previously labelled Chinese firms Huawei and ZTE as a risk to national security, highlighting the tensions between the two countries.