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The US lambasted China over the reported ban on iPhones and foreign smartphone brands among its government officials and agencies. The White House called it “aggressive and inappropriate retaliation,” adding it is something the Asian country has done before.
The news started with a report from The Wall Street Journal, sharing that China wants to limit foreign countries’ possible access to its government’s sensitive data, pushing it to resort to this decision. On the other hand, Bloomberg reported that after the ban to government officials, China will soon push it to “state-owned enterprises and other government-controlled organizations.” WSJ added that government agencies have already informed employees that they can no longer use iPhones for work or even bring them to workplace premises.
China has already denied the action but pointed out that it is concerned about some recent security issues involving iPhones. “China has not issued laws, regulations or policy documents that prohibit the purchase and use of foreign brand phones such as Apple‘s,” foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said. “But recently we did notice a lot of media exposure of security incidents related to Apple’s phones. The Chinese government attaches great importance to information and cyber security and treats both domestic and foreign companies as equals.”
On the other hand, the US government criticized the move in a recent statement from National Security Council spokesman John Kirby. “We’re watching this with concern, clearly. It seems to be of a piece — of the kinds of aggressive and inappropriate retaliation to US companies that we’ve seen from the PRC in the past,” Kirby told reporters. “That’s what this appears to be.”
This adds to the already sour relationship between the US and China, which might worsen in the coming years. Unfortunately, companies like Apple are the ones getting sandwiched between these conflicts. For China, however, pushing such an action could only backfire as Apple plays a significant role in its economy by employing locals through its iPhone manufacturing deals. Yet, while it really is unlikely to fully push the ban, it is certain that the Asian country made a success in one thing: pissing off its opponent.