FACT CHECK: Did China Permanently Ban Use of All iPhones by Its Citizens in the Country?

The rumor about the alleged ban on "all iPhones" emerged shortly before the release of the iPhone 15, causing a negative impact on the price of Apple's shares

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Has China banned the use of "all iPhones" in the country by passing a new law? Social media has been abuzz with the claim that the Chinese government will no longer allow its citizens to use iPhones in the country. However, the claim is completely false.

There have been no credible sources reporting the existence of such a law. Chinese officials have also reportedly denied the existence of any such law. Instead, a new iPhone model was launched in mid-September 2023, and people in China were still able to order Apple devices.

Strange Claim

China iPhone fake news
The Instagram post that claims China banned all iPhones in teh country Instagram

The claim has its roots in an Instagram post made on September 19, which opens with the lines: What phone do you use?

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Video via: affluency_

The add-on text in the attached image continued:





The second attachment to the message was a video from the PBD podcast, hosted by Patrick Bet-David. In the video, Bet-David discussed China's "immediate ban on all Apple devices by government officials."

However, the claim of an immediate ban on all Apple devices in China was completely false, as six days after the post's publication, the Apple website in China continued to permit the purchase of iPhones, as seen in the screenshot with an automatic translation to English.

The claim seems to be an exaggeration of a Wall Street Journal article published on September 6 discussing reported expansions of certain restrictions on the use of iPhones or any foreign-made devices within China's government agencies, but it does not represent a ban on "all iPhones."

The article relied on unidentified sources and never brought up the absolute ban on "all iPhones" or an official statute making such devices illegal. It instead mentioned "instructions" that were fairly casually conveyed to government workers in "workplace chat groups or meetings" by their bosses.

"It wasn't clear how widely the orders were being distributed..." the Journal mentioned in the article.

The Real Story

Apple China
Apple's website in China shows that iPhones are easily available in the country and people are placing ordering in hordes Apple

On September 13, 2023, Mao Ning, the spokesperson for China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, did not provide any specific information about reported verbal or texted "instructions" in China's government agencies. However, he denied that China had issued any new formal restrictions or a nationwide ban on the use of Apple devices or any similar products.

Security issues related to gadgets made abroad were also raised in China's official response. For instance, according to Bloomberg, at least one iPhone in the United States was infected with the spyware Pegasus in September 2023, while in June 2023, Russia accused Apple of collaborating with American national security services to hack Russian citizens' iPhones.

When asked about the alleged expansion of restrictions on the use of Apple devices by government employees in China, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told journalists that the White House was monitoring the new developments with "concern," as reported by Reuters.

This was the same day that China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs held a press conference. Bloomberg quotes Kirby as saying that the issue is "of the kinds of aggressive and inappropriate retaliation to US companies" and went on to say, "The truth is, we don't have perfect visibility on exactly what they're doing and why, and we certainly would call on them to be more transparent about what they're seeing and what they're doing."

The rumor about the alleged ban on "all iPhones" emerged shortly before the release of the iPhone 15, causing a negative impact on the price of Apple's shares, as highlighted by a CNN article.

This came around two weeks before Chinese company Huawei launched its latest smartphone, seen as a new competitive threat to Apple, according to CNBC.

On September 22, 2023, the first day of iPhone 15 sales in China, Reuters reported that people could still enter Apple stores in Shanghai and Beijing to pick up pre-ordered devices. Some customers had their iPhones delivered within one hour.

Sales through the company's app surged by 253 percent compared to the release of the iPhone 14 a year earlier, as reported by CNBC.

Hence, the claim is completely false and baseless.

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