The sales of Apple’s iPad 2 3G models have begun in China as they are now available on the Apple Store website. Apple had confirmed that sales were to begin earlier today.

This announcement is timed well as Apple plans to open its new five-story Nanjing East store in Shanghai on Friday, a day before it opens a new Hong Kong store. The iPad 2 3G models are currently only available on Apple’s Chinese store site.

Earlier in September, prices for iPad 2 3G models began appearing on the Chinese Apple Store website. The prices were discovered by performing a search for ’3G iPad 2′ on the site, although the products were unable to be ordered.

From the pricing, the Chinese iPad 3G models will be reasonably priced when compared to Hong Kong and US prices. A 16GB iPad 2 will run RMB 4,688, which is right on par with the US version which runs RMB 4,300 (converted). The Hong Kong price of RMB 3,910 is still cheaper because of the VAT but it should be close enough to alleviate smuggling issues.

Screen shot 2011 09 20 at 10.27.07 AM 520x561 Apple launches iPad 2 3G in China starting at RMB 4,688 for the 16GB model

Because iPad 2 models with 3G had yet to launch in mainland China, it made the devices a hot target for smugglers looking to bring them over from Hong Kong for a profit. Products imported officially from Hong Kong are subject to a 17% VAT and HK has no sales tax, making it an ideal place to score cheaper product and ‘export’ it.

The official introduction of the iPad 2 3G to China should alleviate many of those issues. If you’re in China you can shop for them now on the Apple Store site and they appear to be in stock.