When you travel with your iPad to China, you can be taxed RMB 1000 in custom duty, which is 20% of the item’s price in China.  But a new law has just passed and lowered the custom duty of computer, camera and video camera to 10%.  And it means you need to pay only RMB 500 for your iPad.  However, the new law does not include another hot item, iPhone, which still charge RMB 1000 in custom duty.  (Here is an article in local media about it: http://tech.sina.com.cn/n/2011-01-28/11501646479.shtml?from=iasknominate)

As there is considerable price different between iPhone and iPad in China and in places like Hong Kong, many people bring them home whenever they travel aboard.  In fact, there are more iPhone coming from aboard (called parallel import) than sold by its official channel, China Unicom, in China.  China Unicom sold about 1 million iPhone so far, but there are about 3 million parallel imported ones.

In my opinion, the best way to fight parallel import (or struggling) is to lower the price of iPhone and iPad in China, so that there is no more significant price differences.  Actually, I don’t quite understand why iPhone and iPad have to be more expensive in China than in places like Hong Kong.  After all, they all come from the same source, Apple.

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Sherman So

Author of Red Wired: China's Internet Revolution, the first book to completely survey the nature of China's internet. (http://redwiredrevolution.com/) She previously was the lead China technology reporter...