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China removes Apple, other US tech companies from approved government purchase lists

Xidan Joy City Apple Store in Beijing, China. | Source: Apple

China has blacklisted Apple and a number of other big name U.S. technology brands from its approved state purchase lists, leaving local companies to fill the resulting void, according to a report published on Wednesday.

Reuters reports that China's Central Government Procurement Center's (CGPC) struck products and services made by foreign companies from its approved state purchase lists, while at the same time approving thousands of products made domestically. The change is thought to be motivated by concerns over Western cybersurveillance operations.

Over a two-year span from 2012 to 2014, the CGPC added more than 2,000 new products to its list, which dictates spending by central state ministries, bringing the total to nearly 5,000. That increase was largely thanks to local vendors, however, as foreign brand presence dipped by one third over the same period.

Apple, Cisco, Intel, McAfee and Citrix Systems were all culled from the lists, the report said. Cisco Systems appears to be the biggest loser in China's recent policy shift, as the network hardware firm saw its share of approved products drop from 60 in 2012 down to none by late 2014.

Citing an unnamed official within CGPC, the publication said any number of reasons can be attributed to the list change, including assurances from domestic firms that their products are more secure than foreign solutions.

The new Chinese regulations come on the heels of revelations regarding U.S. cybersurveillance activities run by the National Security Agency, brought to light by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Following allegations of Apple involvement in a secret NSA spying program last year, China Central Television aired a report that called iOS location tracking "a national security concern." To help alleviate concerns, Apple moved Chinese users' iCloud data to servers within China.

Apple in January reportedly agreed to subject its consumer products to security audits by the China's State Internet Information Office. The move was supposedly intended to persuade Chinese regulators that rumors of software backdoors and third-party data sharing were false.