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iPhone 6 in final stage of approval for China, says regulator

The new iPhone is closer to getting the thumb's up for sales to start in China, according to a government regulator interviewed by Chinese Internet portal Tencent.

The iPhone 6 is reportedly close to regulatory approval in China. CNET

Chinese consumers may not have too much longer to wait before they can legally start buying the iPhone 6.

Apple's new iPhone is "in the final stages of review for approval, with results due shortly," Miao Wei, chief of China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, told Chinese Internet portal Tencent on Tuesday, according to Reuters. Wei wouldn't say exactly how much longer the review will take but expects the results "very soon," he told Tencent.

"The iPhone 6 has entered the final stage of the approval process, now it's just a matter of time," Wei said. "Netizens, please wait patiently."

The new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus went on sale on Friday in the US, UK, Puerto Rico, Canada, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, France, and Germany -- but not in China.

Sales of the iPhone 6 in China have been stalled reportedly due to delays in regulatory approval. Last Thursday, Apple received approval for the iPhone 6 to tap into the country's domestic frequencies, according to the official government Xinhua news agency. But one hurdle remains. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology must officially approve the new iPhones for network access before retailers can start offering them.

Last year, China was among the countries that got first dibs on the iPhone 5S and 5C during the initial launch weekend. Assuming China could have been part of the iPhone 6 launch this year, the delay in government approval is costing Apple a healthy percentage of sales. The iPhone maker sold a record number of iPhone 5S units in China last fall, and the countryaccounted for 16 percent of Apple's $37.4 billion in sales last quarter, according to Bloomberg.

The delay is also triggering iPhone 6 sales via China's black market. Several people cited by Bloomberg have been buying up stock of the iPhone 6 in countries where it's available and then reselling them in China at exorbitant prices.

Apple has been mum about the government approval process or any potential launch dates for the iPhone 6 in China. Carolyn Wu, a Beijing-based spokeswoman for Apple, told Bloomberg earlier last week that she couldn't provide a date for the China release and said simply that "China is a key market for us and we will get here as soon as possible."

CNET contacted Apple for any additional comments and will update the story with further details.