The White House, weighing in for the first time on concerns about a Chinese backlash against Apple, said it is monitoring reports of a growing government ban of iPhones and believes the move is a reprisal against the US. From a report: “It seems to be of a piece of the kinds of aggressive and inappropriate retaliation to US companies that we’ve seen from the PRC in the past,” said John Kirby, the council’s spokesman, referring to the People’s Republic of China. Bloomberg News reported this month that China plans to expand a ban on the use of iPhones to a plethora of state-backed companies and agencies, a sign of growing challenges for Apple in the country. Several Chinese agencies have begun instructing staff not to bring their iPhones to work.

But the situation grew more muddled Wednesday, when Beijing pushed back on reports about iPhone restrictions while also raising concerns about security problems with the device. “China has not issued laws and regulations to ban the purchase of Apple or foreign brands’ phones,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning told a regular press briefing in Beijing on Wednesday. It marked the government’s first comments on the issue, but didn’t seem to refer directly to workplace bans of the device.