Shanghai authorities ban government officials' use of iPhone

The People's Daily, the official newspaper of the Communist Party, pointed out the restriction in a tweet last week

Authorities in Shanghai have banned the use of all foreign smartphones, including Apple's popular iPhone, by government officials, according to a report from the People's Republic of China (PRC).

Stories in several PRC media outlets noted the ban, which was announced during an economics forum held at Beijing University on Friday.

The People's Daily, the official newspaper of the Communist Party, pointed out the restriction in a tweet last week. "Shanghai authorities has [sic] ordered all cadres to use China-made smartphones only, a forum organized by [Beijing] University said Friday," the publication said.

A fleshed out report on cecb2b.com, a Chinese-language website that tracks the country's component manufacturing sector, added that the announcement was made by Wei Jianguo, former vice minister of the government's Ministry of Commerce. Citing national and network security issues with smartphones from foreign manufacturers, including Apple and Samsung, Wei said that Shanghai's government had ordered all members of its cadre to use only devices made by Huawei, the world's third-largest smartphone manufacturer, behind only Samsung and Apple.

In China, "cadre" is a term roughly equivalent to "civil service," although a cadre is often, but not always, also a Communist Party member.

The cecb2b.com story also repeated previous allegations that Apple's products specifically, and U.S. products in general, posed security threats to China.

In July, China's state-run television accused Apple of tracking iPhone owners' movements using iOS 7's "Frequent Locations" feature, a charge that Apple denied.

China, like other countries, has also painted American technology companies and products with the "Snowden Effect," named after former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden, who revealed widespread NSA spying and data collection in the U.S. and around the world. Apple has been aggressively touting its privacy policies, most recently last week, in an attempt to defuse those suspicions and to differentiate its wares from Google's, its mobile OS rival.

China's media has been on an anti-iPhone kick of late, which can't make Apple happy: As part of Apple's Greater China sales region -- composed of the PRC, Hong Kong and Taiwan -- the country is crucial to Apple's growth. In the June quarter, for example, Greater China accounted for 16% of Apple's total revenue, growing 28% year-over-year, by far the largest gain of the firm's categories.

In a Monday report, the People's Daily (Chinese language version) revisited the omission of China from Apple's early wave of iPhone 6 and 6 Plus roll-out markets, concluding that it was a "serious accident" for Apple's public relations efforts. More importantly, the publication said, was that if months went by, domestic rivals would reap what Cupertino planned to sow.

"If iPhone 6 into China is blocked, the domestic mobile phone manufacturers will benefit," the paper said in a machine translation.

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