updated 09:31 am EDT, Wed August 6, 2014
Cites security concerns
[Updated with Chinese government denial] The Chinese government has excluded 10 Apple products from its latest procurement list dictating which products can be bought using public funds, according to officials cited by Bloomberg. Among the banned products are all variations of the MacBook and the iPad, but not the iPhone or other Mac models. The products were on a June version of the list, but are said to have been left out as of July due to security worries, though another report quotes government officials as denying this.
China has been excluding a growing number of US technology companies from government purchases, including the likes of Microsoft, Symantec, and Kaspersky. Officials are worried about espionage, particularly given Edward Snowden's revelations about corporate collusion with the NSA. Digital spying has been ongoing between the two countries for some time, and in May US prosecutors indicted five Chinese military officers for stealing corporate data despite not having any realistic expectation of arresting them.
Apple's next chance to get back on the procurement list is a review in January. Some US firms that are still on the list include Dell and HP, as well as all Apple products apart from the iPad and MacBook lines.
Update: Another report from Chinese media site Caixin, the Apple products were not removed due to security reasons, but rather because Apple has failed to file some required paperwork for energy-saving certification. The article quotes spokespersons form the Ministry of Finance as saying the government is required to only purchase certified energy-use-compliant products, and Apple "failed to submit the relevant material flow" of documentation for the process. A ministry official called the Bloomberg story ""speculation and misunderstanding."
While Chinese state media has called iOS a "national security concern," the explanation from the Finance Ministry would explain the fact that the iPhone - presumably the Apple product "security" concerns would center around - remains on the list, as do all non-MacBook Mac models. Apple moved quickly to directly rebut the security concerns raised by Chinese state media, saying that the company is "deeply committed to protecting the privacy of all our customers." It added that privacy is "built into our products and services from the earliest stages of design" and that Apple strives to "deliver the most secure hardware and software in the world."