China’s government has banned officials at central government agencies from bringing foreign-branded phones, including the iPhone, into offices or using them for government work, reports The Wall Street Journal. Citing unnamed sources, the article says China seeks to “cut the country’s reliance on foreign technology” and beef up cybersecurity, as well as keep sensitive data from leaking to foreign governments.
While the move broadly targets foreign-made smartphones, Apple stands out, as China remains one of its biggest markets. The country also continues to be a huge part of its supply chain, even as it transfers manufacturing to countries like India. With China as such a big part of its bottom line, Apple has made changes to its iOS software in the past to appease the country, such as limiting AirDrop’s time window to 10 minutes or removing the Taiwanese flag emoji.
China already bans iPhones at some of its agencies, the Journal notes, and the country has also forbidden officials from using other foreign-made tech. Reports emerged that military and government personnel were barred from using Tesla vehicles, and Tesla later announced it would begin storing Chinese car data locally.
The US has swung its own foreign tech ban hammer in the direction of China, of course — see the “rip and replace” bans of Huawei and ZTE hardware and ever-expanding attempts to ban TikTok at the local, state, and federal level. More recently, Nvidia and AMD said an AI training chip sales ban already targeting China and Russia has expanded to include countries in the Middle East, though US officials deny that the Biden administration has done so.