Chinese government officials can no longer use iPhones, alongside many other non-Chinese smartphones, for any kind of work purpose.
Originally reported by The Wall Street Journal and according to ‘people familiar with the matter’, this rule had existed previously in some branches of the Chinese government, but recent demands have expanded this much further.
On protective technological practices, the Chinese government has previously pulled ChatGPT-like apps for going against ‘socialist values’ and Apple has confirmed Chinese game developers need government approval before launch. This is just one step in an ongoing technological war between the US and Chinese governments.
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The American government’s disdain for TikTok alongside its ban on some Huawei products is in a similar vein of territorial action. The US and Chinese governments both cite ‘security concerns’ for their recent decisions. Both seem to be warranted to an extent as apps and phones do have the capability of transferring personal data via cloud backups and wire transfers — an especially dangerous concern for those in roles that handle sensitive information.
Despite the chance of the iPhone ban having a chilling effect on sales in China, it is important to note that this ban doesn’t extend to consumer devices. The soon-to-be-announced iPhone 15, iPhone 15 Pro, and iPhone 15 Pro Max devices will still go up for sale, and government officials can still use them if left outside of official government spaces.
In the same report, the WSJ states that China accounts for around 19% of Apple’s total revenue, a substantial figure that Apple will want to maintain and grow further. In an effort to do so, Apple has used Chinese data centers to process personal data collected by iPhones — something demanded by the Chinese government.
It seems these measures weren’t good enough at protecting ‘national security’ as the government’s iPhone ban is currently in place. This is just one action in the many taken by both US and Chinese officials to rely on tech made in their respective countries, but it remains to be seen if these will make the desired effect that its government is aiming for.