China approves iPhone 6 after security assurances

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

BEIJING (AP) — China's phone regulator said Tuesday it has approved Apple Inc.'s iPhone 6 for use on Chinese networks after the company promised never to allow other governments access to users' information. Apple said sales start Oct. 17.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology's announcement reflected Chinese unease about the reliability of foreign communications technology following disclosures about widespread U.S. government eavesdropping.

China is one of Apple's biggest markets and any disruption to the availability of its latest smartphone could be a serious commercial setback.

Apple, based in Cupertino, California, began delivering its new smartphone in the United States and other markets Sept. 20 but delayed its rollout in China without explanation.

Approval for use of the iPhone 6 on Chinese networks was granted after Apple "promised 'it never constructed a so-called 'backdoor' for any government entity of any country in any product or service,' and moreover 'never will'," the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said in a statement.

Communist leaders are uneasy about China's heavy reliance on foreign technology, especially for security-related functions. Banks and major companies have been ordered to limit use of foreign security technology and the government announced in May it would start examining foreign technology for security flaws and bar sales of products that fail.

This year, Apple faced accusations by Chinese state TV that the location service on the iPhone could allow the company to steal secrets and threaten national security. The company denied it worked with any foreign governments to create "backdoor access" and said location data stays in the phone.

Apple said the iPhone 6 will be supported by all three major Chinese state-owned phone carriers — China Mobile Ltd., China Telecom Ltd. and China Unicom Ltd.

Prices will range from 5,288 yuan ($860) for a 16-gigabyte model to 6,088 yuan ($991) for a 64-gigabyte model and 6,888 yuan ($1,121) for a 128-gigabyte, the company said. The iPhone 6 Plus, with a larger screen, will be priced at 6,088 yuan ($991) to 7,788 yuan ($1,267).