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Apple's China listing status not a ban, says new report

New reports call into question a Bloomberg story that claimed China has banned certain Apple products from government buying.

Apple iPad Air
Apple's iPad Air. Josh Miller/CNET

Has China banned key Apple products from government purchase? A new report is throwing cold water on that claim.

In a story picked up by CNET and other news sites on Wednesday, Bloomberg said that China had banned Apple's iPad and Mac from government purchasing over security concerns. Citing "government officials familiar with the matter," Bloomberg said that the products in question were on a government procurement list in June but were left off the list in July, implying that the items were now being banned.

A ban of core Apple products in China would affect the company's bottom line. Chinese consumers accounted for 16 percent of Apple's $37.4 billion in overall revenues last quarter, according to Bloomberg. Sales of the iPad in China jumped by 51 percent compared with the same quarter last year, while Mac sales rose by 39 percent over the same period. Apple also worked hard to secure deals with China's top three mobile carriers to offer the iPhone.

But Bloomberg and/or its sources may have confused some facts of the matter, thereby drawing the wrong conclusions. A report from Chinese news site Caixin cites sources close to China's Ministry of Finance who say that Apple simply neglected to apply to be included in the procurement list, which actually is geared toward energy-saving products, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Why Apple didn't file an application or at least not the right application is unknown, though authorities are currently looking into the issue, AppleInsider said. Caixin's take is that Apple may have simply failed to submit the necessary documents, including energy-saving product certification, which are required to make the list.

Further, even exclusion from the energy-saving product list would not ban Apple products from government purchasing. Chinese government agencies that don't need to follow the energy-saving guidelines would still be able to buy Apple devices under a fair bidding process, Caixin's sources added.

The bottom line here? Given the current level of suspicion between China and the US and US tech companies, it's too easy to suspect the worst and draw the wrong conclusions. A certain amount of skepticism is usually in order until and unless official sources can provide the necessary confirmation.

Responding to a request for comment on the matter, a spokesperson for Bloomberg told CNET that the company stands by its reporting. CNET also reached out to Apple and will update this story when we hear back.