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Tension between the Chinese authorities and US technology companies has grown after it was revealed that government employees in the Middle Kingdom have been banned from using Apple’s products.
Products including the iPad and MacBook ranges have been removed from an approved list of technology products for government officials and employees for the first time and from a host of Chinese websites, according to Bloomberg. Companies including Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Lenovo, the Chinese business, remained on the list, which will next be reviewed in January.
It is unclear why Apple’s products have been removed but it further stokes the flames between the US technology sector and China after a series of high-profile incidents in the country. Microsoft’s offices were raided this week by Chinese officials, and Symantec, the cybersecurity software company, was also struck off the government-approved list. Other technology companies to be criticised by state-run media outlets include Google and Facebook.
Tensions grew after documents disclosed by the whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that some companies had co-operated with the US National Security Agency to spy on China. That was unwelcome, given that the American authorities had previously banned Huawei and ZTE, Chinese network companies, from providing equipment to government agencies over security concerns.
Apple declined to comment. Apple is becoming more dependent on China to maintain its growth rates. It signed a deal to sell the iPhone through China Mobile, the world’s largest mobile phone business with 776 million subscribers, starting in January, and received one million pre-orders. Canalys estimated this week that Apple’s sales rose 58 per cent in the second quarter.
Its exposure to the consumer market means that Apple is less vulnerable to a crackdown on government contracts than companies such as Microsoft, although it is a blow as the US group attempts to tackle booming sales of home-brand phones. Even Samsung, the world’s largest phone maker, has struggled against fierce competition from local players and lost its No 1 slot to Xiaomi, which means “little rice”, in the second quarter.
Apple has called a truce with Samsung over patent disputes outside the United States.
Apple also claimed yesterday that its investment in the European economy had resulted in the creation of 630,000 jobs.
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