One place you won’t find an Apple Watch is within the ranks of China’s soldiers. The device, along with every other smartwatch, has been banned by the People’s Liberation Army, according to the Liberation Army Daily, the Chinese military’s official newspaper.
The warning was prompted after a recruit tried to take a photo of his fellow soldiers with a smartwatch he received from his girlfriend as a birthday gift. He was stopped immediately by his squad leader who reported the incident to higher ranking authorities.
Following the incident, the military’s security committee issued a blanket ban on smartwatches with Internet access, location tracking and voice calling functions, barring them on grounds of national security regulations. Individual soldiers speaking to NBC News confirmed the ban.
"The moment a soldier puts on a device that can record high-definition audio and video, take photos, and process and transmit data, it's very possible for him or her to be tracked or to reveal military secrets," the report said.
In recent months, China has stepped up its efforts to plug what it considers potential cybersecurity holes, including requiring companies selling computers to Chinese banks to turn over source codes and build in back doors, according to the New York Times.
Even with the ban in place, that only places the Apple Watch out of reach for just over 2.4 million Chinese soldiers, a fraction of China’s estimated population of 1.4 billion, which is currently driving record sales for Apple’s iPhones.