China bans iPhones for government officials

Tourists swarm outside the Apple Store on Nanjing Road pedestrian street in Shanghai, China, April 5, 2023.
Apple Store in Shanghai, China. (Image credit: Photo by Costfoto/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

China has reportedly barred government officials from using Apple's iPhone and other foreign tech devices for work and/or bringing these into the office.

Following the news (reported by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ)), Apple stocks have reportedly plunged over 3.5% during the day, closing at $182.91.

The ban comes as the latest effort into Beijing's policy of cutting its dependence from foreign technologies. At the same time, it also echoed similar moves taken by the US government against China-owned Huawei products and video-sharing app TikTok.    

US/China tech war

Despite the WSJ report not mentioning other brands beside Apple, it talks about workplace chat groups and meetings giving employees instructions of the new rules. At this stage it isn't yet clear, though, how widely the orders were being distributed.

At the same time, an anonymous source dealing with Chinese central government agencies told CNN about an "unwritten rule of shunning iPhones since before the pandemic" adding that officials now tend to use smartphones manufactured by domestic companies instead.

One of the many reasons behind the beef among the two super tech powers, Chinese firm Huawei has long been the target of US efforts to limit its products abroad. Nonetheless, with its new Mate 60 5G smartphone, the company proved an unexpected resilience of its domestic chip market in spite of US-led export restrictions—Reuters reported.

In what looks like the next chapter into the US/China tech war, Apple shares keep plummeting over the rumors that one of its biggest markets began getting restricted.

Beside posing a harm to tech investments across the country, such a ban might also raise allegations over security dangers linked to the use of Apple and, more generally, US-developed devices.

After all, the Chinese ownership of TikTok is one of the main reasons why many US politicians deemed the popular app a "threat to national security." Tensions escalated by the end of 2022, with President Joe Biden signing an unprecedented order to bar TikTok from all federal government devices on December 30.

This move was followed by a wave of governmental bans among US allies, including the EU, UK, Canada, and New Zealand. The US government is also evaluating a new law, the RESTRCT Act, which could create a legal framework to ban this and other foreign adversaries' services for all Americans despite experts and civil societies warnings of the risks posed on citizens' freedoms by such a regulation.

Chiara Castro
Senior Staff Writer

Chiara is a multimedia journalist committed to covering stories to help promote the rights and denounce the abuses of the digital side of life—wherever cybersecurity, markets and politics tangle up. She mainly writes news, interviews and analysis on data privacy, online censorship, digital rights, cybercrime, and security software, with a special focus on VPNs, for TechRadar Pro, TechRadar and Tom’s Guide. Got a story, tip-off or something tech-interesting to say? Reach out to