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RedPad: the €1,228 iPad rival for China's bureaucrats

A new iPad rival designed for Communist Party members in China has prompted controversy online, with citizens appalled at its price tag of more than €1,228.

Encased in decadent leather and loaded with special apps, Communist Party members can use the Android tablet to verify identification cards, and monitor the media and state-owned firms, all without fretting that a bourgeois Apple device could ruin their credibility among their peers.

The eye-popping price has set China's microblogs alight with chatter over just why the RedPad is so expensive and who is footing the bill.

"Is it the god of toys? Why don't they throw in a free iPad with it," said Looperrr on Weibo, a Twitter-like service popular in China.

RedPad Number One spokesman Liu Xianri said in an interview with the Southern Daily on Wednesday that sales of the tablet were completely market driven.

"We are looking to compete against the foreign brands," Liu said in response to a question on whether public funds may be used to buy the RedPad.

RedPad's price was high, Liu said, because of the number of pre-installed apps that cater to bureaucrats and state-owned company managers.

For example, it has apps that allow users to check the validity of a journalist's government accreditation as well as read state-controlled newspapers and websites.

But an online survey on Thursday showed that citizens viewed the RedPad as symbol of privilege, or a luxury designed to fleece taxpayers.

"After reading all the articles about this, I am impressed," said microblogger Xixizhiniu. "What an honor it is for you, the taxpayer, that you place a 9,999 yuan [tablet] into the hands of the leaders!"