Some of the top technology brands have been dropped from China’s approved state purchase lists, and Apple is one of them. According to Reuters, the move is what some claim is a response to reports of widespread Western cybersurveillance. Other commentators say the change is geared more towards shielding China’s domestic technology industry from international competition.
This move means that Apple products, like the iPhone and iPad, are no longer on the approved state purchase lists for China. Local government offices, state-owned enterprises, and the military are not bound by the Central Government Procurement Center’s (CGPC) list, since they run their own procurement approval systems.
Part of the problem may come from allegations of Apple’s involvement in a secret NSA spying program last year. China Central Television aired a report calling iOS location tracking “a national security concern,” which led Apple to move Chinese users’ iCloud data to servers within China. Apple also reportedly agreed to subject its consumer products to security audits by China’s State Internet Information Office.
In addition to Apple, other leading U.S. technology firms were removed from the CGPC list. These technology leaders include Cisco, Intel, McAfee, and Citrix Systems, according to the Reuters report. The number of approved foreign technology brands was culled by a third, with less than half of the foreign vendors with security-related products surviving the cut.
CGPC has declined to officially comment on the moves, but an official speaking under anonymity said there were many reasons why local makers might be preferred, such as the fact that domestic security tech firms are offering more guarantees on their products than their overseas rivals.
This could be a major blow to Apple, which has been trying to increase its presence in China and other Asian markets.