China has expanded its ban on the use of iPhones and other foreign-branded mobile devices among officials at central government agencies for work purposes, reports the Wall Street Journal.
According to sources familiar with the matter, the instructions were given to employees in workplace group chats or meetings earlier this week. The move comes as part of Beijing’s continued attempts to increase its cybersecurity, cut reliance on foreign technology, and limit the flow of confidential information to foreign governments, and is the latest sign that the government is heightening its efforts to enforce its rules.
It isn’t clear at present how many government officials were affected by the decision, and neither China’s State Council Information Office or Apple responded to the Wall Street Journal’s request for comment.
The latest order mirrors similar moves in the West which have seen governments such as the UK and USA ban the use of Chinese social media app TikTok due to security concerns.
Chinese manufacturer Huawei has also come under fire, with the USA adding the company to its entities list in 2019, citing concerns that Beijing could force the company to install a backdoor in networking equipment. Just days later, Google blocked the manufacturer from some Android updates and apps.
Made in China
The announcement, just days ahead of next week’s expected launch of the iPhone 15 on September 12, appears to be expertly timed and - at a moment where Apple's share price usually rallys pre-reveal - has instead prompted a significant drop. Shares fell 3.6% in the immediate aftermath of the decision. In contrast, the company’s stock climbed 8% between June 2016’s quarterly report and the announcement of the iPhone 7 in September of that year. The firm dominates China’s high-end smartphone market, and China accounts for 19% of the company’s total revenue.
Notably, Chinese consumers do have a new home-grown alternative - Huawei released its Mate 60 phone last week, and the device has been in high demand.
Earlier this week, we reported that Chinese app store providers have begun compliance with the latest wave of regulations.