China says no iPhone or any other foreign brand smartphone for government officials as fears of foreign intelligence collection of sensitive data grows
Huawei launches the latest 5G smartphone
Beijing has reportedly ordered officials working for central government agencies to stop using iPhones or any other foreign devices for work or bringing them into the office, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday, citing people familiar with the matter.
Several government employees told the outlet that they had been given these instructions by superiors in recent weeks via workplace chat groups and in-person meetings.
While government officials at some agencies had already been barred from using iPhones for years, the latest order seems to have significantly expanded the reach of the policy. However, the WSJ noted that it was unclear exactly how widely the orders were distributed but similar messages were also being communicated to employees at some central government regulatory agencies.
Neither Apple nor China’s State Council Information Office have yet confirmed the move or responded to requests for comment on the matter, the WSJ said.
The apparent move comes as China has been taking steps to cut its reliance on foreign technology in the interest of strengthening cybersecurity and preventing leaks of sensitive information outside the country.
The US also barred its public officials from using Chinese phones from brands such as Huawei, or downloading and using the popular Chinese-owned TikTok social media app on their government-issued mobile devices. Lawmakers have raised concerns that Beijing could be attempting to gain access to American users’ data.
In February, Beijing also demanded that multinational companies working in China, including the likes of Apple, Amazon, and JPMorgan Chase, must submit their data practices for audit before being allowed to export any locally generated data outside the country.
Similar steps have also been taken in Russia recently, where all members of the presidential administration focusing on domestic policy have been instructed to discard their iPhones. Other government officials have been warned against ever using Apple devices at work due to the threat of surveillance by foreign intelligence.
Last week, Huawei unveiled the latest Mate 60 Pro smartphone last week during U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo’s visit in China, as the government readies a new $40-billion investment fund to bolster its developing chip sector.