FORTUNE -- Some time before midnight in New York (1 p.m. Beijing), China Mobile's (CHL) Beijing reservation website switched to attached image, strongly suggesting that the world's largest mobile carrier -- with more than 750 million subscribers -- was getting ready to offer Apple's (AAPL) iPhone 5S for sale.
"Something worth waiting for," reads the banner, according to the Wall Street Journal's translation.
When an AppleInsider reader named Jeffery snapped the first screenshot, the visitor counter displayed the number 3,004. By 6 a.m. Eastern (7 p.m. in Beijing) -- six hours later -- the counter hit 17,525 and was increasing at the rate of one every two seconds. Whether those numbers represent reservations or just page views is not clear.
Proof that the long-awaited Apple-China Mobile deal has been consummated? Not quite. But evidence, perhaps, of pent-up demand.
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