China Bans Foreign Phones, Including iPhones, for Government Work

An iPhone with an image of a keyhole appears atop a MacBook keyboard.

The Chinese government banned the use of all foreign-branded phones for government work and from being brought into offices, including Apple’s iPhone which remains supremely popular in the country, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The move is part of China’s larger push to move away from reliance on foreign technology in general, the outlet says. This is due to both security and economic concerns. Limiting foreign technology, of course, gives an advantage to domestic-made products and though the ban is just for government work and buildings, it’s certainly not beneficial to Apple. China makes up 19% of the tech company’s overall revenue, according to WSJ, and is one of its largest markets.

Beijing specifically has long banned iPhones for some government agencies, but the latest report would affect all central government employees. It also suggests, the WSJ reports, that it could mean stricter enforcement in Beijing. This comes after Apple has complied with the Chinese government on the removal of apps of everything from VPNs to video games, and it has data centers based in the country. The company even removed the Taiwanese flag emoji to appease the foreign government, as The Verge points out. Apple is also well-known for its security, even to the chagrin of authorities, which have pushed the phone maker to create backdoors into its products.

Though Beijing’s concerns go beyond the iPhone maker stretching back to whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelation that the NSA infiltrated China’s computer networks, WSJ notes.

“Chinese leader Xi Jinping has been emphasizing national security as China‚Äôs rivalry with the U.S. intensifies, leading to a tightening of state control over data and digital activities in recent years. In July, China started implementing an expansive update of an anti-espionage law,” the report states.

Meanwhile, the U.S. has taken action against Chinese tech companies, as well. It blacklisted cell phone maker Huawei, and some jurisdictions have banned Chinese social media app TikTok on government-owned devices. Montana went so far as to ban the app entirely. Security concerns were raised regarding the app, as well.

For now, time will tell how the back-and-forth bans progress as the technological Cold War wages on.

Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.