China says it has not banned purchase, use of foreign phone brands

BEIJING — China has not issued a ban on the purchase and use of foreign phone brands, the Chinese foreign ministry said on Wednesday (Sept 13), in response to media reports that said some government agencies and firms had told staff to stop using Apple’s iPhones at work.

“China has not issued laws, regulations or policy documents that prohibit the purchase and use of foreign brand phones such as Apple’s,” foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning told a regular press briefing when asked about the reports.

“But recently we did notice a lot of media exposure of security incidents related to Apple’s phones. The Chinese government attaches great importance to information and cyber security and treats both domestic and foreign companies as equals,” she added.

Reuters recently reported that China had widened existing curbs on the use of iPhones by state employees, telling staff at some central government agencies to stop using their Apple mobiles at work.

The supposed ban coincides with rising tensions between Beijing and Washington, and signals growing challenges for Apple, which relies heavily on China for revenue growth and manufacturing.

Mao said China hoped all mobile phone companies would strictly abide its laws and regulations, as well as “strengthen information security management”.

China has increasingly emphasised using locally-made tech products, as technology has become a major national security issue for Beijing and Washington.

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