New iphone models in china: apple kowtows to beijing

The new Apple smartphones are not allowed to have an electronic SIM card in China. This helps the surveillance state.

Complicit in the surveillance state? Apple adapts the Iphone to Chinese requirements Photo: reuters

This Friday, Apple will start the worldwide delivery of its new Iphones. Chinese customers will also be able to purchase the smartphones for the equivalent of around 1,080 to 1,590 euros – with a decisive difference in the hardware.

For the first time, the Iphones feature dual slots for SIM cards. This means that users can insert both a physical SIM card and the built-in electronic SIM – and thus use two phone numbers at the same time. In China, however, the smartphones will be released without the eSIM. The obvious reason: The electronic SIM would only send user information to Apple, but not to the state operators of the mobile networks.

Experts assume that this step was the only way for Apple to gain market access in China. With an eSIM, users could at least remain anonymous from the state. In the People’s Republic, as in Germany, the purchase of a SIM card is only possible by presenting an ID.

Apple admitted to taz that it would not offer an eSIM in China "due to local regulatory restrictions. The company wants to cooperate with certain mobile providers so that customers can use two numbers at the same time.

Registrations with clear names only

Under President Xi Jinping, the Communist Party has greatly expanded its state surveillance system. Registration with a clear name is now required for almost all online accounts and public services, and facial recognition software is being tested in several cities.

As early as August, Google was criticized for bringing a censored search engine for Android to China with its "Dragonfly" project, thereby making itself common with Beijing’s surveillance plans.

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