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China orders tougher scrutiny for Apple

Standards bodies across nation told to step up "contract supervision" of US computer firm already facing bad publicity.

Last Modified: 29 Mar 2013 17:51
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State media have carried a series of attacks against Apple, with some running critical items for days [GALLO/GETTY]

Apple is to face "strengthened supervision" from China's consumer watchdogs, according to Chinese state media.

The State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) asked trading standards bodies across the country to step up "contract supervision" on the US computer giant, the People's Daily reported on Friday.

The move comes as Apple faces a barrage of negative publicity and court cases in China.

"Local governments are required to ... investigate and punish illegal activities in accordance with the law," the paper quoted the SAIC as saying in an official note.

A spokesman for SAIC who declined to be named confirmed the existence of the document but declined to disclose details, the AFP news agency said.

The People's Daily articles follow reports on state broadcaster CCTV.

However, users of China's Twitter-like weibos have been split, with some backing Apple and saying state-owned Chinese firms deserved more criticism for poor service.

Second-biggest market

China is Apple's second-biggest market, and its iPhones and other products - many of them made in the country - are highly popular.

The company faces fierce competition from South Korea's Samsung.

State media have carried a series of attacks against Apple, with the People's Daily, the Communist Party's official mouthpiece, running critical items for five consecutive days.

The criticism has been triggered by alleged double standards in customer service and returns policies.

Apple has denied those accusations in statements to Chinese media but the condemnations have continued unabated, with the newspaper urging consumers to "strike away Apple's unparalleled arrogance" in one of its commentaries.

Some have speculated the move is an organised campaign, and columnist and microblogger Lian Peng said he bought a new iPad on Friday "on purpose" and will "seriously consider buying an iPhone 5".

"I don't fancy electronic items. But I feel embarrassed if I don't purchase after seeing the bombardment of advertising jointly staged by CCTV and the People's Daily," he wrote.

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