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Did China Ban Gov't Employees From Using iPhones Because of Security Concerns?

The back of an iPhone 4 and IPad 3 are displayed for a photographer in New York, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012. Apple CEO Tim Cook said Thursday the company will produce one of its existing lines of Mac computers in the United States next year. Like most consumer electronics companies, Apple forges agreements with contract manufacturers to assemble its products overseas. Credit: AP

You may be able to find plenty of knock-off versions of Apple products -- and even fake Apples stores -- around Chinese marketplaces, but a source within the People's Republic of China says the country has restricted government workers from buying certain Apple gadgets.

The reason? Security concerns.

The Chinese government banned 10 Apple products from being purchased with public money. (ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images)

The Chinese government excluded 10 Apple products -- including the iPad, iPad Mini, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro — from a list of products that may be purchased by government officials with public money, Bloomberg reported, citing unnamed Chinese officials.

Could the ban actually impact the California-based company? Perhaps.

(Image source: Image source: The Atlantic

According to Bloomberg, nearly 16 percent of Apple's $37.4 billion in revenue last quarter came from China. Apple CEO Tim Cook said last month that iPad and Mac sales in the country had increased by 51 percent and by 39 percent, respectively.

Experts said the government ban sends a negative signal to other large corporate entities.

“When the government stops the procurement of products, it sends a signal to corporates and semi-government bodies,” Hong Kong analyst Mark Po told Bloomberg. “The Chinese government wants to make sure that overseas companies shouldn’t have too much influence in China.”

Though the Chinese officials quoted on background cited security concerns for the Apple crackdown, a Chinese anti-trust regulator conducted new raids on Microsoft and partner in China Accenture PLC, the agency said on its website Wednesday, after saying last week that Microsoft was under investigation for anti-trust violations.

Other sources say there was no blockage the government, but rather a paperwork slip up on Apple's side.

"It looks to have been a failure or miscommunication with the required documentation from Apple," a translated report by Caixin said. "Apple failed to enter the Chinese government’s shopping list ... [they] simply failed to proved the necessary information for inclusion into the energy-saving products in government procurement list," industry insiders said.

The Apple and Microsoft clampdowns, whether government initiated or truly paperwork "miscommunication," could signal a broader Chinese government focus on American-based computer companies; both companies have appeared to be under heavier scrutiny in recent months in the wake of former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden's cyber-espionage revelations.

The list of approved procurments applies to all central Communist Party departments, government ministries and all local governments, according to Bloomberg. Products from Dell Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co. and Chinese maker Lenovo Group Ltd. were also included. The next review for the list will be in January.

This story has been updated. 

(H/T: Gizmodo)


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