US House panel chair: wider Chinese iPhone ban aims to quash Apple’s market access

(Reuters) – A wider ban on China state employees from using Apple’s iPhones is not surprising and seeks to limit a Western company’s market access, the chairman of the U.S. House panel on China told Reuters on Thursday.

“This is textbook Chinese Communist Party (CCP) behavior – promote PRC (People’s Republic of China) national champions in telecommunications, and slowly squeeze western companies’ market access,” U.S. Representative Mike Gallagher said in an emailed statement.

“American tech companies seeking to cozy up to the CCP must realize the clock is ticking,” added Gallagher, a Republican.

China in recent weeks has widened curbs on the use of iPhones by state employees, telling staff in at least three ministries and government bodies to stop using their Apple mobile phones at work, Reuters reported on Thursday, following earlier reports by the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg.

Apple’s shares have slipped amid the reports amid fears of tit-for-tat action as Sino-U.S. tension rise. Shares of the company were down about 3% in midday trade on Thursday.

Apple and China’s State Council Information Office, which handles media queries on behalf of the government, have not responded to requests for comment on the reported ban.

(Reporting by Karen Freifeld and Jasper Ward; Writing by Ismail Shakil; Editing by Susan Heavey and Doina Chiacu)