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China: Apple under fire, again

This time, they've been accused of not being green.
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A couple carries a new Mac desktop just bought from the Apple store in Beijing on May 8, 2011. Four people were taken to hospital and a glass door smashed as a near-riot broke out at Beijing's top Apple store among crowds rushing to snap up the popular iPad 2 tablet computer, state press said on May 8. (LIU JIN/AFP/Getty Images)

Apple is under fire again in China, this time accused of not being green.

In a report released Wednesday, a consortium of five Chinese environmental groups calls out the U.S. tech giant for what is says are widespread environmental problems created by its supplier companies in China.

The report follows up on an earlier Apple condemnation by the same environmental groups in January.

GlobalPost in Taiwan: Rights abuses in factories making the world's favorite high-tech gadgets 

In their latest report, which targets six electronics factory locations in China, the groups say:

Faced with an ever evasive Apple, a group of Chinese NGOs decided to dig deeper and carry out further investigations into the environmental problems that exist within Apple’s supply chain. Through five months of research and field investigations we have found that the pollution discharge from this $300 billion dollar company has been expanding and spreading throughout its supply chain, and has been seriously encroaching on local communities and their surrounding environments.

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China moves to close fake Apple stores

Though Apple has announced a third authentic store in Shanghai to absorb growing demand.
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A sales staff watches people wait in line to buy the newly released Apple Inc. iPad 2 tablet computer at the Apple store on May 6, 2011 in Beijing, China. (Lintao Zhang/AFP/Getty Images)

A little bird abroad has created quite a stir.

You may remember among last week's news highlights out of China was the revelation of a stunningly realistic fake Apple store in Kunming.

It looked so much like the real thing — winding staircase, blue-shirted employees with square name tags around their necks — that it had fooled even the staff.

BirdAbroad blogger, an American expatriate woman in her 20s, talked with employees who were under the impression that they were selling genuine Apple products.

Turns out that they may have been after all. A Kunming government spokesperson said the Apple products were legit, though he didn't say where they came from.

An investigation found four more "fake" Apple stores in Kunming, two of which have been closed down since they didn't have proper business licenses, and not because they were selling counterfeit Apple products. Hm.

Apple has so far remained mum on the subject, though Xinhua reported today that they will be opening up a new, even larger store in Shanghai to absorb the growing demand.

The store will be Apple's fifth legitimate store in China, and the third in Shanghai. Not counting all the fake ones.

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China's biggest ripoff yet?

You've got your "Gucci" handbag, but I bet you haven't been to the "Apple" store.
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A sales staff watches people wait in line to buy the newly released Apple Inc. iPad 2 tablet computer at the Apple store on May 6, 2011 in Beijing, China. (Lintao Zhang/AFP/Getty Images)

If China is indeed cracking down on counterfeits, they must be concentrating on ones that are smaller than a breadbox.

Because, as the Bird Abroad blogger points out, they aren't doing a very good job with ones as big as a computer store.

That's right. A whole store.

Bird Abroad, a 27-year-old female expat in Kunming, China, writes:

It looked like an Apple store. It had the classic Apple store winding staircase and weird upstairs sitting area. The employees were even wearing those blue t-shirts with the chunky Apple name tags around their necks. ...

We proceeded to place a bet on whether or not this was a genuine Apple store or just the best ripoff we had ever seen – and to be sporting, I bet that it was real.

But what proved more shocking than an Apple store in Kunming, was an Apple store that is fake from bottom to top.

A beautiful ripoff — a brilliant one — the best ripoff store we had ever seen (and we see them every day). But some things were just not right: the stairs were poorly made. The walls hadn’t been painted properly.

Apple never writes “Apple Store” on it’s signs – it just puts up the glowing, iconic fruit. ...

Being the curious types that we are, we struck up some conversation with these salespeople who, hand to God, all genuinely think they work for Apple. I tried to imagine the training that they went to when they were hired, in which they were pitched some big speech about how they were working for this innovative, global company – when really they’re just filling the pockets of some shyster living in a prefab mansion outside the city by standing around a fake store disinterestedly selling what may or may not be actual Apple products that fell off the back of a truck somewhere.

Pretty special stuff.

The Atlantic Wire points out that:

When Apple announced record-high quarterly revenues and profits yesterday, COO Tim Cook noted that China — where the company's four stores bring in the most traffic and revenue of any Apple stores in the world — was "key to our results."

Apple's future is clearly in emerging markets, but given the scope of counterfeiting in China, ZDnet asks how long that record growth is likely to last.

The comparison to Apple in China is Microsoft. Microsoft makes little money in China due to piracy.

Apple's website reports four (and only four) stores in China, with those in Beijing and Shanghai recent additions.

But a quick stroll from this one in Kunming yielded two more knock-off Apple stores!

Check out Bird Abroad for pics of this stunningly realistic store.

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Hacker group hits Apple with a small, relatively benign attack, but some see a warning

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