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iPhone may debut in Chinese market by early 2010, sans Wi-Fi

Two reports from Friday indicate that the iPhone will soon make it to market in China, although the Communist government wants to make sure that users aren't free to use their newly-acquired Apple goodness to criticize official policies.

Gizmodo published an unconfirmed report that China Unicom may have a deal with Apple to sell iPhones with Wi-Fi blocked. Some of our readers might comment that China Unicom could just sell customers devices that have been upgraded to iPhone OS 3.0, since Wi-Fi doesn't appear to be working properly on many of those iPhones, but the Chinese government wants assurance that Wi-Fi is blocked on any iPhones sold in the country.

Why? To quote Gizmodo, "it's harder to sniff local packets than ones drifting through a wide-area network." What they're referring to here is the Golden Shield Project, known to many as the "Great Firewall of China." That's the Internet censorship and surveillance project run by the Chinese Ministry of Public Security.

The Gizmodo post is in turn based on a story by Business Week, which is reporting that Apple applied yesterday (July 10th) to the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology for a Network Access License to sell the iPhone in the country. Business Week notes that Apple may receive permission to officially sell iPhones in The Middle Kingdom by the time of the Spring Festival in 2010, which occurs in January.

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