China Bans iPhone Use at Central Government Agencies, WSJ Reports

(Bloomberg) — Apple Inc . suffered its worst share decline in a month after a report that Chinese government agencies have barred staff from using iPhones and other foreign devices at work.

Most read from Bloomberg

Employees at “some” central government agencies were instructed via chat groups and in meetings to stop bringing such gadgets into the office, the Wall Street Journal said, citing people familiar with the matter. It is not clear how broadly the orders were issued, the newspaper added.

Shares fell as much as 3.3% to $183.53 in New York on Wednesday, marking the biggest intraday drop since Aug. 4. Apple had gained 46% this year through Tuesday’s close, part of a broader rally in tech stocks.

The company enjoys widespread popularity in China, its biggest international market, despite growing resentment over US efforts to restrict the Asian country’s technology industry. Apple’s iPhones are among the country’s bestsellers and are common in both the public and private sectors.

However, foreign entities have long been discouraged in sensitive agencies, especially as Beijing has stepped up a campaign in recent years to reduce reliance on technology from the United States, China’s geopolitical rival.

Read more: China orders government, state-owned companies to dump foreign PCs

In 2022, Beijing ordered key government agencies and state-backed companies to replace foreign-branded personal computers with domestic alternatives within two years, marking one of the most aggressive efforts to root out key overseas technology from its most sensitive organs.

Nevertheless, China was one of the highlights of Apple’s results last quarter, helping to offset a generally sluggish period. The Cupertino, Calif.-based company is preparing to unveil its latest iPhones next week, setting the stage for a holiday quarter that is invariably its biggest sales period of the year.

–With assistance from Jeran Wittenstein.

Most read from Bloomberg Businessweek

©2023 Bloomberg LP

Leave a Comment