Chinese authorities are refuting news reports that the Chinese government has banned the purchase of Apple products for its agencies.
Bloomberg cited unnamed Chinese officials who said on Wednesday that 10 Apple products, including the iPad, iPad Mini, MacBook Pro and MacBook Air, were taken off a monthly government procurement list of energy-efficient devices developed by the Ministry of Finance and the National Development and Reform Commission.
But a statement mailed by the Central Government Procurement Centre of China told Reuters that it is not banning Apple on its list. Apple simply failed to submit the necessary documents proving that its products meet China's energy efficiency requirements. Apple also told Reuters that it did not apply to be on the list but declined to elaborate. This closely mirrors the statement faxed by China's Ministry of Finance to Reuters.
"Even though Apple has the certification for energy-saving products... it has never provided the necessary verification material and agreements according to regulations," says the the Ministry in its statement.
The Central Government Procurement Centre adds that government agencies without an energy-saving requirement can still purchase Apple products and has, in fact, produced a separate procurement list that includes 1.2 million yuan or $195,000 worth of Apple computers for certain departments not required to purchase energy-efficient devices.
Given Apple's strong relationship with Chinese manufacturers and suppliers, it is highly unlikely that the Chinese government will ban government purchases of Apple products or encourage the public to follow suit, as it would seriously damage its own local manufacturing industry, a key component of its growing economy. Furthermore, Apple has worked hard to forge relationships with China's biggest mobile carriers, which are largely state-owned and controlled, to offer the iPhone.
A ban on Apple products in government offices would indicate to corporate entities and private individuals to stop purchasing Apple products too, which would be a costly blow to Apple's business. In the last quarter, 16% of Apple's $37.4 billion revenue came from China, with sales for both the iPad and the Mac rising 39% and 51% respectively.
The confusion over the procurement list comes from China's recent spats with U.S.-based technology companies, which the Chinese government suspects of collaborating with Washington's cyberspying attempts to get hold of Chinese private information. Just last month, the state-run China Central Television featured reports accusing Apple of leaking state secrets through the iPhone, a report that Apple has vehemently denied.
China is also embroiled in a skirmish with Microsoft, which is currently in the midst of an anti-monopoly investigation following China's announcement that it will no longer add Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system due to security issues.