Sept. 6 (Reuters) – China has ordered officials at central government agencies not to use Apple Inc’s iPhones and other foreign-branded devices at work, or bring them into the office, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday, citing people familiar with the matter.

The Wall Street Journal said the orders had been issued by bosses of their employees in recent weeks and it was not clear how widely the orders were distributed.

The ban comes ahead of an Apple event next week that analysts believe will be about the launch of a new line of iPhones, and could spark concern among foreign companies operating in China as Sino-US tensions escalate.

The Wall Street Journal report did not mention other phone makers besides Apple. Apple and China’s State Council Information Office, which handles media inquiries on behalf of the Chinese government, did not immediately respond to Reuters’ requests for comment.

For more than a decade, China has been seeking to reduce reliance on foreign technologies, requiring state firms such as banks to switch to domestic software and boosting domestic chip manufacturing.

A man holds an iPhone 14 as Apple Inc’s new models go on sale at an Apple Store in Beijing, China, on September 16, 2022. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File photo Acquire Licensing Rights

Beijing intensified that campaign in 2020, when its leaders proposed a so-called “dual circulation” growth model to reduce reliance on outside markets and technology, as it grew increasingly concerned about data security.

And in May, China urged major state-owned companies to play a major role in its pursuit of self-reliance in technology, raising the stakes in the race amid disputes with the United States.

Sino-US tensions have been high as Washington works with its allies to block China’s access to critical equipment needed to keep the chip industry competitive, and Beijing restricts shipments from high-profile US firms including aircraft maker Boeing (BA.N) and chip maker Micron Technology (MU). ). .O).

During a visit to China last week, US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said US companies had complained to her that China had become “uninvestable,” citing fines, raids and other measures that made it risky to do business in the world’s second-largest country. Economy.

The latest restriction by China mirrors similar bans taken in the United States against Chinese smartphone maker Huawei Technologies (HWT.UL) and short video platform TikTok, owned by Chinese company ByteDance.

China is one of Apple’s largest markets and generates nearly a fifth of its revenue.

(Reporting by Paranjot Kaur in Bengaluru; Prepared by Mohamed for The Arabic Bulletin) Editing by Savio D’Souza and Miral Fahmy

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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