While there was no other information available on the paper’s website, the tweet echoes a report in the Beijing News (link in Chinese) that Apple chief executive Tim Cook informed Lu last month that Apple would let China’s State Internet Information Office conduct “security checks” on all products that it sells on the mainland. China has been concerned that Apple devices like the iPhone enable the company – or worse, US intelligence agencies – to spy on Chinese citizens.
What would “security checks” entail? Apple hasn’t provided any information on the matter and did not respond to requests for comment. But analysts said the most likely interpretation is that the company is giving Beijing access to its operating system source code in return for being able to continue to do business in China – arguably Apple’s most important market, but one that has been imperiled by regulatory obstacles.
This whole story seems highly unlikely to me. If Apple were to give the Chinese government access to the iOS source code, it’d leak all around the web in no-time. Even if Apple could somehow get a 100% guarantee that there would be no leaks, this whole thing seems incredibly un-Apple. Then again – it may simply be a fait accompli for Apple; if the Chinese government demands source code access in order for Apple to keep operating in the Chinese market, Apple may simply have no choice but to comply.
Even if this story is true, the only possible way I could remotely see this work is Apple setting up a special, dedicated office on its own premises where Chinese government officials get a peek.