China: Apple products not banned from government purchases

The country's Procurement Center, its Finance Ministry, and Apple itself say the iPhone maker never applied to be on the government's list of approved energy-saving products, according to Reuters.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read

Apple iPad Air
Apple's iPad Air and other devices are apparently not on the outs with the Chinese government. Josh Miller/CNET

China and Apple have both refuted a report that certain Apple devices have been banned for government purchases in the country.

On Wednesday, a Bloomberg article claimed that China had banned the iPad and Mac from government purchasing due to security concerns. On Thursday, a Chinese news site said instead that Apple simply failed to apply to be included on the list in question. And now both the Chinese government and Apple have weighed in with the same explanation.

An actual ban of Apple products by the Chinese government would hurt the company financially. China overall accounted for 16 percent of Apple's $37.4 billion in sales last quarter, according to Bloomberg. Sales of the iPad in China rose by 51 percent compared with the same quarter last year, while Mac sales increased by 39 percent over the same period.

So why all the misunderstanding over an alleged ban?

The confusion seemed to stem from the fact that the list mentioned in Bloomberg's story is one aimed at energy-saving products rather than a list that sanctions the government purchase of all products. Apple has never applied for the list of energy-saving products, the company told Reuters via email on Friday, which China's Central Government Procurement Center and Finance Ministry said as well.

"Even though Apple has the certification for energy-saving products...it has never provided the necessary verification material and agreements according to the regulations," the Finance Ministry told Reuters on Thursday. The Procurement Center followed that up with a similar statement on Friday.

Apple devices can still be purchased by Chinese government agencies even if those items are not on the energy-saving list. Some concerns arose on Thursday when the Procurement Center's website stopped the sale of certain Apple products. However, that was a temporary move due simply to price adjustments, multiple suppliers told Reuters. Since then, the site has resumed selling Apple devices.