The Chinese foreign ministry has denied rumors of a ban on foreign brands, including Apple, in the country. Spokesperson Mao Ning stated on Wednesday that while there have been reports of “security incidents” related to Apple’s iPhones, there is no official prohibition on the purchase or use of these devices. Mao emphasized that China has not issued any laws, regulations, or policy documents that restrict the use of foreign brand phones like Apple’s.
Mao acknowledged the media coverage of security incidents involving Apple’s iPhones but assured that the Chinese government treats both domestic and foreign companies equally and attaches great importance to information and cyber security. However, the spokesperson did not provide further details about the nature of these alleged security issues. Mao emphasized that all mobile phone companies operating in China, including Apple, are required to comply with Chinese regulations and must strengthen their information security management.
The news agency Reuters previously reported that employees in several Chinese government ministries had been instructed to stop using iPhones while at work. The extent to which this ban has been implemented remains unclear. The reports of a possible restriction on iPhones in China caused a decline in Apple’s shares, as China is one of the company’s most lucrative markets, responsible for around one-fifth of its annual revenue. The surge in iPhone sales in China has been supported by US sanctions that impacted the local Huawei mobile phone business.
Last year, the Biden administration banned the approval of new telecommunications equipment from Huawei for the US market, citing national security risks. US officials expressed concerns about Huawei devices being used for surveillance purposes. China has consistently denied these allegations. Mao previously criticized Washington’s stance on Huawei, calling it an “abuse of state power” and an “unreasonable suppression of Chinese companies.”
Apple, along with its third-party suppliers, employs a large number of workers in China. During a visit to Beijing in March, CEO Tim Cook praised the country’s innovation and highlighted the longstanding relationship between China and the company. However, there have been reports of Apple’s efforts to reduce its reliance on the Chinese supply chain due to tensions between Beijing and Washington. The company has also been expanding its manufacturing operations in India.
In summary, the Chinese foreign ministry has denied reports of a ban on foreign brands such as Apple in the country. While there have been security incidents related to Apple’s iPhones, there is no official prohibition on their purchase or use. Chinese regulations require all mobile phone companies, including Apple, to comply with information security management. The extent of the reported ban on iPhones within Chinese government ministries remains uncertain. Apple, despite its reliance on the Chinese market, has been seeking to diversify its supply chain and expand manufacturing operations in India.