“Chinese government prohibits iPhones in offices, instructs officials to abstain from using or bringing them.”

China has recently issued orders to officials at central government agencies, instructing them not to use Apple’s iPhones and foreign-branded devices for work purposes or to bring them into their offices. The Wall Street Journal reported on this development, citing sources familiar with the matter. These directives have been relayed by higher-ranking officials to their staff in recent weeks, although the extent of their distribution remains unclear.

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This ban has emerged just ahead of an upcoming Apple event, widely believed to involve the launch of a new line of iPhones. The timing of this ban could raise concerns among foreign companies operating in China, particularly as tensions between China and the United States continue to escalate. While the Wall Street Journal report specifically mentions Apple, it does not name any other phone manufacturers involved. Both Apple and China’s State Council Information Office, responsible for handling media queries on behalf of the Chinese government, have not yet responded to requests for comments from Reuters.

In recent years, China has grown increasingly concerned about data security, leading to the introduction of new laws and compliance requirements for companies. In May, China called on large state-owned enterprises (SOEs) to play a pivotal role in achieving technology self-reliance, heightening the competition amid ongoing tensions with the United States.

Sino-U.S. tensions have remained elevated, with the United States working alongside its allies to limit China’s access to crucial equipment necessary for its competitive chip industry. In response, Beijing has imposed restrictions on shipments from prominent U.S. companies, including Boeing and Micron Technology.

During a recent visit to China, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo highlighted concerns raised by U.S. companies about China becoming an “uninvestible” market. This was attributed to fines, raids, and other actions that have increased the risks associated with doing business in the world’s second-largest economy.

China’s decision to restrict the use of foreign-branded devices by government officials mirrors similar bans imposed by the United States on Chinese companies like Huawei and TikTok, owned by China’s ByteDance. It’s worth noting that China is a crucial market for Apple, accounting for nearly one-fifth of its total revenue.

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