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China and the US have been poking at each other for a while now over a variety of issues. The US has accused China of having government sponsored hackers that attack US government and commercial sites daily, and are responsible for theft of both commercial and military secrets. The US has renamed the street beside the Chinese Embassy after a jailed Chinese dissident. China has officially labeled Windows 8 as spyware and forbidden it’s use but government agencies (while still widely using Windows XP, ironically). Frankly, this is just another poke at the US in the ongoing tit-for-tat game that both countries are playing, and I suspect this “tat” is in response to the US placing restrictions on Chinese made servers because of the possibility of back doors.
Of course, Apple has issued a statement saying that it does not track individual users and the iPhone does not pose a security risk. If anyone wanted to use smartphones for surveillance, I would think the Chinese telecoms would be in a better position than handset manufacturers anyway, whether that is Huawei, Samsung or Apple. But to claim that there is no possibility of a manufacturer tracking users is not credible to me. If location tracking data is stored, it can be accessed. Just ask the NSA.