Apple is evading taxes in China and spreading pornography, said a Chinese consumer protection group in Beijing on Friday.

The China Association of Consumer Protection Law, in a report published by the newspaper, accused Apple’s online stores in China of not paying import taxes for software that they sell to mainland consumers. The accusations come amid a global debate on how online retailers should be taxed.

"Apple uses the internet to by-pass Chinese customs and reach Apple iPhone users directly," said He Shan, the head of the association, in the report. "Apple must pay customs duties to our nation."

The association is a subsidiary of the government-sanctioned China Law Society, and the newspaper is under the direction of the Communist Party’s central Politics and Law Committee.

The report also quotes Peking University criminal law scholar Kang Shuhua as saying Apple was criminally liable for spreading pornographic material in China. "This salacious, malignant tumour is eroding our nation’s way of doing things,” he said. “Apple must delete this obscene content."

Apple was also named in the April 17 edition of the as one of 198 companies under investigation for spreading pornographic material.

Cao Sanming, the association’s executive deputy head, called on Chinese authorities to investigate the company "to uphold the law, protect consumer rights and the nation’s dignity".

In March, China Central Television and  lambasted the Cupertino, California-based Apple for providing inferior service to Chinese customers.

On April 1, Apple chief executive Tim Cook apologised to Chinese consumers and later in the month said he was optimistic about the company’s sales growth in China, the world’s second-largest economy. Apple is the world’s largest technology company in market capitalisation. 

"If companies go to other countries, they have to respect the local regulations," Liu Junhai, a law professor at Renmin University in Beijing said, when reached on the phone. Liu wrote one of the first articles singling out the US company for its poor treatment of Chinese consumers.

Repeated attempts to contact Apple in Hong Kong and China for comment were unsuccessful as of early Friday evening.