Apple is among the companies China has officially dropped from its state-approved technology buying list—a move that was unofficially revealed several months ago. The change means Chinese government agencies can't purchase iPhones, iPads, or Macs.
China bans Apple products from government purchases
China didn't single out Apple with its purchase ban. Cisco, Citrix, McAfee, and more were all cut from the list, most likely to promote the purchase of tech equipment from in-country companies. China didn't offer an official reason for the ban, but it's likely a response to the threat of surveillance from the United States and other western countries.
Word that Apple had been cut from the state-approved purchase list first surfaced in August 2014, and was seen as more of a political move in response to reports that the NSA has been conducting wide-spread surveillance on foreign governments. The move may have also been a tit-for-tat response to the U.S. ban on some of China's tech products.
China's other actions against western companies include TV exposés claiming Apple doesn't pay taxes, distributes pornography, and smuggles software into the country, and raiding Microsoft's local offices as part of an anti-monopoly probe. Another exposé claimed the iPhone was a national security threat because Apple was using its smartphone to track China's citizens to collect state secrets.
For Apple, the China's ban won't likely have a huge impact because consumers can still buy iPhones, iPads, and Macs. The company already has stores in the country, and is planning on opening more.
China's move seems somewhat passive-agressive in that there isn't any official statement as to why Apple and other western companies have been blocked from the state-approved purchase list. The move will likely help boost sales for in-country tech companies while at the same time sending a political message to the United States. In other words, Apple, Cisco, and Microsoft are merely pawns in China's international political game.
[Thanks to OppTrends for the heads up]