Beijing — Apple may have just notched up its fourth straight quarter of double-digit revenue growth in China but the shine quickly came off that stellar performance as Chinese state media stepped up a tirade of criticism against the smartphone giant. On Tuesday evening, the same day as Apple’s earnings, China’s official state broadcaster, in a 30-minute special report, accused Apple of allowing illegal content, including gambling apps, onto its platform. The programme was one of at least five reports by state media that targeted the company in the past week. Although Beijing has criticised Apple before, the attacks highlight an increasingly fraught balancing act for the firm in the world’s biggest smartphone market, where trade friction, tighter regulations and fierce competition threaten robust consumer appetite for its iPhones and other products. Mo Jia, an analyst at industry tracker Canalys, said the reports needed to be seen as part of the US-China trade conflict, noting tensio...

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