China ordered officials at central government agencies not to use Apple’s iPhones and other foreign-branded devices for work or bring them into the office, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
In recent weeks, staff were given the instructions by their superiors in workplace chat groups or meetings, according to the report, which added that it wasn’t clear how widely the orders were being distributed.
The ban comes ahead of an Apple event next week that will be about launching a new line of iPhones, and could trigger concerns among foreign companies operating in China as China-US tensions escalate.
The WSJ report did not name other phone makers besides Apple. Apple and China’s State Council Information Office, which handles media queries on behalf of the Chinese government, did not immediately respond to Reuters’ requests for comment.
The iPhone maker’s shares were down 4 per cent in late trading on Wall Street.
For over a decade, China has been seeking to reduce reliance on foreign technologies, asking state-affiliated firms such as banks to switch to local software and promoting domestic semiconductor chip manufacturing.
Beijing ratcheted up this campaign in 2020, when its leaders proposed a so-called “dual circulation” growth model to reduce reliance on overseas markets and technology, as its concerns over data security grew.
In May, China urged big state-owned enterprises to play a key role in its drive to attain self-reliance in technology, raising the stakes in the race amid rifts with the United States.