China bans officials from buying Apple products
Chinese government officials are banned from buying Apple gadgets as cybersecurity tensions escalate
The decision is the latest salvo in an escalating war between the two superpowers, as each accuses the other of spying and tries to shore up their own cybersecurity defences.
American politicians have, for years, cautioned government contractors against buying equipment made by Huawei and ZTE, the telecommunications firms, effectively banning them from doing business in the US.
Washington’s intelligence committee did not have firm evidence of wrongdoing, but raised fears following “dozens and dozens” of calls about Huawei and ZTE equipment behaving suspiciously.
More recently, China has warned government officials not to buy antivirus software from Symantec Corporation and Kaspersky Lab, the US technology companies. It has also locked Microsoft out of the running for government purchases of energy efficient computers, by banning the use of its Windows 8 operating system. China’s official Xinhua news agency blamed security fears.
Beijing has now set its sights on Apple, according to reports. Ten of the Californian technology company’s products, including the iPad tablet and its MacBook Air laptop, have been struck from the July list of gadgets government officials are authorised to buy with public money.
The move could prove a major problem to Apple, which depended on China for 16pc of its sales in the third quarter, and which has cited expansion in the territory as one of its top strategic priorities.
The ban on government purchases will curtail sales directly, but analysts warned that it will also have a knock on effect on sales to consumers and other businesses.
“When the government stops the procurement of products, it sends a signal to corporates and semi-government bodies,” said Mark Po at Hong Kong’s UOB Kay Hian. “The Chinese government wants to make sure that overseas companies shouldn’t have too much influence in China.”