China said Wednesday it was following media reports about suspected security issues with iPhones but insisted there was no ban on its officials using the devices, as technology tensions simmer between Beijing and Western rivals.
The Wall Street Journal previously reported that China had prohibited officials at central government agencies from using iPhones, and Bloomberg later reported that Beijing planned to extend the ban to government-backed
agencies and state companies.
At a regular press briefing, China’s foreign ministry said it “had indeed noted many recent media reports exposing security incidents relating to Apple mobile phones”.
However, “China has not issued any laws, regulations, or policy documents prohibiting the purchase and use of smartphones made by foreign brands such as Apple”, spokesperson Mao Ning said.
“The Chinese government attaches great importance to information and cybersecurity, and treats both domestic and foreign-funded enterprises in the same way and on an equal footing,” Mao said.
“We have always taken an open attitude towards foreign-funded enterprises and welcome them to seize China’s development opportunities and share in China’s economic development.”
Apple shares fell sharply last week following the reports about restrictions in China.
But the US company’s products are hugely popular in China, with the unveiling of the iPhone 15 generating widespread social media discussion on Wednesday ahead of its release in the country this month.
Beijing has clashed with the United States and other Western countries in recent years over a range of technology issues.
Washington placed sanctions on Chinese firm Huawei over suspicions the company could help Beijing conduct espionage — allegations Huawei denies.
The United States has also pressured its allies to ban Huawei technology from 5G networks on the grounds that Beijing could use the equipment to spy on China says no law banning iPhone use in govt agenciesother countries’ communications and data traffic.