China: A rival to iPad that toes the party line

China's Communist Party members can now carry a tablet PC to verify identification cards, read the blogs of cadres, and manage state-owned firms without fretting that using a bourgeois iPad will ruin their street cred.

Enter RedPad No 1, an Android-based tablet computer filled with software applications that serve a party official's every need. Pre-installed apps that cater to bureaucrats and managers of state-owned companies include one that allows users to check the validity of a journalist's accreditation as well as read state-run newspapers and microblogs.

Delivered in a decadent leather case for 9,999 yuan (£1,000), it is twice the price of Apple's most expensive iPad 2. The eye-popping price has China's microblogs alight with chatter over just why this device 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, Sina Corp's, microblogging platform. But RedPad No 1 spokesman, Liu Xianri, said that sales were completely market driven.