"China has not issued laws, regulations, or policy documents that prohibit the purchase and use of foreign brand phones such as Apple's," Mao stated during a press briefing in Beijing. This statement comes in response to reports suggesting that government personnel had been instructed to cease using iPhones produced by the US tech giant.
Mao further acknowledged that Beijing had observed "a lot of media exposure of security incidents related to Apple's phones." He emphasized the Chinese government's commitment to information and cyber security, asserting equal treatment for both domestic and foreign companies.
Regarding the nature of the alleged security concerns, the government official did not provide specific details but emphasized that all mobile phone companies, including Apple, are obliged to adhere to Chinese regulations and enhance information security management.
Reuters reported last week that employees in at least three Chinese government ministries had been instructed to discontinue the use of iPhones while on duty. However, the extent to which this ban has been enforced remains uncertain.
Apple's stock prices experienced a dip amid reports of potential iPhone restrictions in China, a market that accounts for approximately one-fifth of the company's annual revenue. Recent surges in iPhone sales in China were partially attributed to US sanctions that impacted the locally manufactured Huawei mobile phone business.
Last year, the Biden administration banned the approval of new telecommunications equipment from Huawei for the US market, citing "an unacceptable risk" to national security. Reports have indicated concerns among US officials regarding the potential use of Huawei devices for spying on American citizens, claims that China has consistently denied. Mao previously criticized Washington's stance on Huawei devices as "an abuse of state power" and "unreasonable suppression of Chinese companies" in January.
Apple, in collaboration with its numerous third-party suppliers, employs thousands of workers in China. During a visit to Beijing in March, CEO Tim Cook commended the country's innovation and celebrated the enduring relationship between China and the tech giant. Nevertheless, reports have indicated that Apple has been actively seeking to reduce its supply chain reliance on China due to ongoing tensions between Beijing and Washington. Instead, the company aims to expand some of its manufacturing operations in India.