China orders government officials to not use foreign-branded devices for work purposes

China’s efforts to reduce its reliance on foreign technologies have been ongoing for more than a decade, with state-affiliated entities encouraged to adopt local software and support domestic chip manufacturing.

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The Wall Street Journal has reported that China instructed officials at central government agencies to refrain from using Apple iPhones and other foreign-branded devices for work or bringing them into the office. However, the extent of the implementation of these orders is unclear.

China has been working to reduce its dependence on foreign technologies for over a decade, encouraging state-affiliated entities to adopt local software and promote domestic chip manufacturing. This campaign intensified in 2020 with the introduction of a ‘dual circulation’ growth model to reduce reliance on foreign markets and technology, driven by concerns about data security.

The development also precedes an upcoming Apple event speculated to unveil a new line of iPhones, potentially causing concern among foreign companies operating in China. The WSJ report did not mention any specific phone makers besides Apple, and Apple and China’s State Council Information Office have yet to respond to requests for comment.

Why does it matter?

China’s recent directive to restrict foreign-branded devices, including Apple iPhones, for government officials mirrors the US bans on Chinese companies like Huawei and TikTok. Significantly, any restrictions related to the Chinese market could affect one of the most profitable tech companies in the United States. This reflects the deepening tensions between the two global powers. The ongoing Sino-US trade and tech dispute has seen the US block China’s access to crucial chip-making equipment and China imposing restrictions on major American firms such as Boeing and Micron Technology.