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Chinese regulator calls for tighter supervision of Apple

A visitor tries an iPhone at an Apple store in Beijing March 28, 2013. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
A visitor tries an iPhone at an Apple store in Beijing March 28, 2013. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Apple Inc has come under criticism from a Chinese marketplace regulator, which called for stronger supervision of the iPhone-maker's consumer policies within the country, according to state-run media.

On Thursday, the official China National Radio cited a Thursday notice from the State Administration for Industry and Commerce that urged authorities to protect consumers' rights in accordance with the law. According to CNR's website report, the notice mentions Apple but stops short of specifying what exactly they need to go after and how to do so.

The notice, CNR said, was in response to widespread reports since March 15 on how Apple's after-sales service had hurt Chinese consumers.

Apple was singled out on March 15 by state-run China Central Television in an annual corporate malpractice expose. Other media outlets have since taken up the baton, focusing on the company's warranty policy on Mac laptops, which critics say is shorter than in other countries.

The Communist Party mouthpiece, the People's Daily, ran an editorial Wednesday attacking Apple for its "unparalleled arrogance".

An Apple spokesman said the company would not discuss regulatory matters.

Apple's popularity has helped offset some of the state-run attacks, which has incited strong push-back from many Chinese Internet users for what they see as unfair treatment doled out to the iPhone maker.

Apple looks to China not just as its main production base, but also to spur growth as smartphone penetration in mature markets near saturation. CEO Tim Cook sees the world's No. 2 economy as virgin expansion territory, and Apple mentions the region in every quarterly results report.

It said in a statement on Saturday that it respected Chinese consumers and that its warranty policies were roughly the same worldwide with specific adjustments to adhere to Chinese law.

(Reporting by Poornima Gupta; Editing by Alden Bentley)

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