China has banned central government officials from using iPhone smartphones and other foreign-branded devices at work or bringing them to the office. In recent weeks, officials and employees have been briefed on the ban by their superiors in various chat groups or in workplace meetings, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Analysts say the move shows Beijing is unwilling to spare any American company in its quest to reduce its reliance on US technology.
"Even Apple isn't immune ... in China, where the company employs hundreds of thousands, if not more than a million, to assemble its products thanks to its relationship with Foxconn," said DA Davidson analyst Tom Forte. “ It should inspire the company to diversify both its supply chain and customer focus to become less dependent on China if tensions escalate."
According to the newspaper, it is noteworthy that this ban is implemented just days before Apple's event next week, during which, as expected, the iPhone 15 series, as well as other devices, should be presented. China is one of Apple's largest markets and accounts for nearly a fifth of the company's revenue.
For more than a decade, China has sought to reduce dependence on foreign technology by asking government agencies to switch to using local software and promoting local production of semiconductor chips.
Beijing began this campaign in 2020, when the country's leaders proposed a so-called "dual circulation" growth model to reduce dependence on foreign markets and technology. In May, China urged big state-owned enterprises to play a key role in its quest for technological self-sufficiency, raising the stakes in the race amid a standoff with the United States.
The newspaper notes that tensions between China and the US are high as Washington works with allies to prevent China from having access to the kind of equipment needed to keep the chip industry competitive. Beijing has retaliated by restricting supplies from top American companies, including planemaker Boeing and chipmaker Micron Technology.