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Apple's Tim Cook visits China

Asia is busy this week entertaining the heads of top tech companies — Google chairman Eric Schmidt arrived in North Korea on Monday, while Apple CEO Tim Cook landed in China on Tuesday.

During his second visit in less than 10 months, Cook met with China's Industry and Information Technology Minister Miao Wei to discuss the development of China's IT industry, global mobile communications, and Apple's business in China, according to the Ministry.

No further details about Cook's trip were available and Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

As media outlets made their own guesses as to why Cook ended up in the Asian superpower this week, speculation about the Cupertino-based firm's potential plans to partner with China Mobile — the world's largest mobile network— began making the rounds. Currently, Apple reaches about 340 million users via China Unicom and China Telecom. A deal with China Mobile could make another 100 million or more potential subscribers available.

Cook could also be touring another Foxconn factory, where many Apple products are assembled before shipping overseas. Both Apple and Foxconn came under fire in the past few years over working conditions at Chinese factories run by the Taiwan-based contract manufacturer.

Recently, Foxconn claimed to have carried out the bulk of changes recommended last year by the Fair Labor Association following a tour of Foxconn facilities. In early December, Apple confirmed in that it will add US manufacturing operations to its production portfolio.

Meanwhile, following a positive iPhone 5 launch in China last month and the apparent success of Apple's retail stores — eight of which are currently operating in China — Cook may be in the country to discuss launching more outlets in the near future.

Apple has made great strides in China recently, growing 25 per cent in the Asia-Pacific region as a whole in the third quarter of 2012, according to July's earnings call. At the time, China made up two-thirds of the company's revenue in the region — even before its newest iPhone hit shelves.