Aside from the tense relationship between Washington D.C. and Beijing, the plan to expand the ban on the use of iPhones within the central government workforce, which began two years ago, poses a growing challenge for the United States, both in terms of revenue stimulation and production, heavily reliant on China.
Reuters, citing unnamed sources, revealed that officials from at least three ministries and state agencies have been instructed not to use iPhones for work, while another news source added that the definitive date for discontinuing the use of these phones has not yet been set.
Reuters attempted to contact Apple and the State Council Information Office, responsible for government media relations, for comments but did not receive any responses before publishing this news.
The report also specified that it is still unclear how widely this ban on communication devices will be enforced. Three sources working within ministries that have issued the ban told the media that they are still using these devices and have not heard of any strict enforcement measures. Meanwhile, a fourth source within a Chinese regulatory agency disclosed that there is no clear-cut ban, but if problems arise from using iPhones, the device owner will be held solely responsible.
In 2020, the Chinese government-linked financial newspaper, Economic Observer, reported that some government agencies had issued bans on using iPhones due to concerns about Apple’s strong privacy safeguards, which prevented law enforcement authorities from accessing and inspecting the phones of suspects.
Bloomberg reported on Thursday that China plans to extend the ban on using iPhones to state-owned enterprises and other organizations as well.
China is Apple’s largest market, contributing to nearly one-fifth of the company’s revenue, with consistently high sales figures. Notably, iPhone sales in this market ranked third in the second quarter of this year, according to data from business consultancy Canalys. One contributing factor is the impact of U.S. sanctions on the company.