- China bans more government officials from using iPhones
- The order has been enacted in recent months
- China's move is in retaliation of the US banning Huawei and other Chines products
- Russia earlier banned Kremlin officials from using iPhones
China has recently issued an order banning central government agency officials from using Apple’s iPhones or other foreign-branded devices for work purposes or to bring them into their governmental offices in the first place, according to sources who spoke to the Wall Street Journal.
The new order reportedly came into effect in recent weeks as officials received instructions from their superiors through workplace chat groups and in-person meetings to ditch their iPhones. According to WSJ, Beijing aims to reduce dependency on foreign technology, bolster cybersecurity measures, and aligns with a broader strategy to restrict the transfer of sensitive information beyond China’s borders.
While Beijing has long imposed limitations on government officials at select agencies regarding the use of iPhones for official purposes, the recent directive has expanded these restrictions, adds the report. This latest order signifies a heightened commitment by Beijing to enforce its regulations rigorously. Although the complete extent of the distribution of these orders remains uncertain, similar instructions were relayed to staff at certain central government regulatory bodies.
The report adds that the development could have a “chilling effect” on foreign brands operating in China. This, of course, includes Apple, which is a major player in the country’s premium smartphone market.
Beijing has already been encouraging its government agencies and state-owned enterprises to transition away from foreign technology, including computers, operating systems, and software, in favor of domestically developed alternatives that are considered secure and within their control.
China’s restrictions parallel comparable bans in the United States, such as those against Huawei and the use of Chinese-owned TikTok by officials. Both superpowers share concerns about potential data breaches, particularly in the context of heightened national security priorities, as bilateral relations remain strained to levels not seen in decades.
Chinese leader Xi Jinping has placed a growing emphasis on national security amid escalating rivalry with the US, resulting in increased state oversight of data and digital operations in recent years. In July, China initiated a comprehensive update to its anti-espionage legislation.
This move from China mirrors a decree enacted by Russia earlier banning Kremlin officials from using iPhones for work-related purposes, amid unsubstantiated claims by Russia’s FSB involving a secret Apple-approved iOS backdoor that allows the US National Security Agency (NSA) to hack into Russian officials’ devices.