Citing concerns that Apple products pose a security threat, the Chinese government last month removed all Apple products from an official government procurement list.
Apple is the latest U.S. technology company to be excluded from Chinese government purchases amid escalating tensions between the countries over claims of hacking and cyberspying. China's procurement agency told departments to stop buying antivirus software from Symantec Corp. and Kaspersky Lab, while Microsoft Corp. was shut out of a government purchase of energy-efficient computers.
"When the government stops the procurement of products, it sends a signal to corporates and semi-government bodies," said Mark Po, an analyst with UOB Kay Hian Ltd. in Hong Kong. "The Chinese government wants to make sure that overseas companies shouldn't have too much influence in China."
Chinese concerns over Apple products most recently came to the surface last month when the China Central Television station reported that the "frequent locations" feature in iOS 7 posed a security threat to citizens and the state insofar as it might allow individuals to gain access to "state secrets" and important economic data.
While that couldn't be farther from the truth, Apple quickly attempted to put out the fire by posting a message on its Chinese website assuring everyone that iOS 7 isn't a security risk while also stressing Apple's commitment to privacy.
The message reads in part:
Apple does not have access to Frequent Locations or the location cache on any user's iPhone at any time. We encrypt the cache by the user's passcode and it is protected from access by any app. In the interest of even greater transparency for our customers, if a user enters their passcode successfully, they are able to see the data collected on their device. Once the device is locked no one is able to view that information without entering the passcode.
As we have stated before, Apple has never worked with any government agency from any country to create a backdoor in any of our products or services. We have also never allowed access to our servers. And we never will. It's something we feel very strongly about.