In a move to reduce reliance on foreign technologies and promote domestic alternatives, China has barred officials at central government agencies from using Apple’s iPhones or other foreign-branded gadgets for work.
The ban was reportedly implemented in recent weeks, but it is not clear how widely it is being enforced. It comes ahead of an Apple event next week that analysts believe will be about launching a new line of iPhones.
China has been seeking to reduce reliance on foreign technologies for over a decade. In 2020, its leaders proposed a so-called “dual circulation” growth model to reduce reliance on overseas markets and technology.
The latest restriction by China mirrors similar bans taken in the United States against Chinese smartphone maker Huawei Technologies and short video platform TikTok. China is one of Apple’s biggest markets and generates nearly one-fifth of its revenue.
The ban could trigger concern among foreign companies operating in China as Sino-US tensions escalate. Washington works with allies to block China’s access to vital equipment needed to keep its chip industry competitive, and Beijing restricts shipments from prominent US firms.
US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said US companies had complained to her that China had become “uninvestable”, pointing to fines, raids and other actions that have made it risky to do business in the world’s second-largest economy.
It is unclear how the ban will be enforced, or what the consequences will be for officials who violate it. However, it is a sign of China’s increasing willingness to restrict the use of foreign technologies.