China’s Foreign Ministry representative Mao Ning used a regular daily press conference to insist the government had not restricted the use of non-Chinese branded smartphones, though noted local media reports of unspecified security issues related to the iPhone.

Mao stated China had not taken any legal or regulatory action to outlaw the purchase of non-domestic smartphones, citing Apple’s iPhone as an example.

She said the government hopes all handset vendors operating in China strictly abide by its rules and regulations, including data security and personal information protection laws.

Mao added the government “attaches great importance” to cyber and information security and “treats Chinese and foreign companies as equals”.

The comments were the first from the government since the country reportedly expanded a ban on use of iPhones for official business by central government agencies to cover employees of local authorities and state-owned companies.

China’s broad reference to iPhone security issues comes as an ongoing tech war between the country and the US escalates, with Huawei and chip manufacturing firmly in the crosshairs.