|Apple has said it has no comments to make on the dicovery of the counterfeit shops [GALLO/GETTY]
A blogger has discovered a fake Apple store operating in Kunming city, China.
The store was stumbled upon by a 27-year-old American living in the capital of China's mountainous southwestern Yunnan province.
Pictures posted on the BirdAbroad blog show a sleek Apple store. Sales assistants in blue T-shirts with the company's logo chat to customers. Signs advertising the iPad 2 hang from the white walls. Outside, the famous logo sits next to the words "Apple Store". And that is the clue it is fake.
Those words never appear on real ones, which just make do with the iconic symbol.
The store looks every bit like Apple Stores found all over the world, according to the blogger, who goes by the name "BirdAbroad".
But Apple has no stores in Kunming and only 13 authorised resellers in the city, who are not allowed to call themselves Apple Stores or claim to work for Apple.
"This was a total Apple store rip-off. A beautiful rip-off - a brilliant one - the best rip-off store we had ever seen," the anonymous blogger posted on Wednesday.
An Apple spokesman in California declined to comment on the fake stores but said consumers can go to the company's website to locate authorised outlets.
The manager of an authorised reseller in Kunming, who gave only his surname, Zhang, said most customers have no idea the stores are fake.
"There are more and more of these fake stores in Kunming. Although they may sell real Apple products, some of those products were not imported through legal means. And they cost more.''
It was unclear whether the store was selling fake or genuine Apple products. Countless unauthorised resellers of Apple and other brands' electronic products throughout China sell the real thing but buy their goods overseas and smuggle them into the country to skip taxes.
The proliferation of the fake stores underlines the slow progress that China's government is making in countering a culture of a rampant piracy and widespread production of bogus goods that is a major irritant in relations with trading partners.
China's commerce minister promised US executives earlier this year that the latest in a string of crackdowns on product piracy would deliver lasting results.
The US and other Western countries have often complained China is woefully behind in its effort to stamp out intellectual property theft.
Apple said this week that China was "very key" to its record earnings and revenue in the quarter that ended in June.
The company was slow to establish its brand in China, but has four retail outlets in Beijing and Shanghai. It plans another two more this year, including one in Shanghai and another in Hong Kong.