China has clarified that it has not banned the use of iPhones in the country for government employees following reports it had done so out of privacy and espionage concerns.
In remarks on Wednesday to the press, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said China has not issued any “law, regulation or policy document that bans the purchase and use of cellphones of foreign brands, such as iPhone.” Ning stated that China is aware of “reports about security issues related to iPhone” and cautioned that all companies should “strictly abide” by China’s law and regulations.”
China did not issue any law, regulation or policy document that bans the purchase and use of cellphones of foreign brands, such as iPhone. However, recently we did notice media reports about security issues related to iPhone. The Chinese government attaches great importance to cyber and information security and treats Chinese and foreign companies as equals. We hope all cellphone companies operating in China will strictly abide by China’s laws and regulations, such as the Data Security Law of the People’s Republic of China and the Personal Information Protection Law of the People’s Republic of China, enhance information security management, protect consumers’ data stored in the cellphones against theft by any individual or organization, and ensure information security.
Remarks by spokesperson Mao Ning on Wednesday
Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal reported that China had 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. The order was reportedly sent out over the last several weeks.
The goal was reportedly aimed at lessening Beijing’s reliance on foreign technology, bolstering cybersecurity measures, and aligning with a broader strategy to restrict the transfer of sensitive information beyond China’s borders. Ning said today China is committed to protecting “foreign companies’ rights and interests” while maintaining a “first-class market-oriented, law-based and internationalized business environment.”
The effect of the alleged ban was expected to be minimal, according to Wedbush Securities analyst Daniel Ives, who said the ban wouldn’t cost Apple more than 500,000 iPhone units in sales. In context, the same analyst expects Apple to sell 45 million iPhones in China following the announcement of the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro this week.