CORRECTED-(March 29)-Apple CEO visits Foxconn's iPhone plant in China


(Corrects third paragraph in March 29 story to say factory isin Henan province, not Hebei)

SHANGHAI, March 29 (Reuters) - Apple Inc's TimCook, on his first trip to China as the chief executive officer,has visited an iPhone production plant run by the FoxconnTechnology Group, which is being accused of improper labourpractices.

China is the world's largest mobile market and alreadyApple's second-biggest market overall, but its growth there isclouded by issues ranging from a contested iPad trademark totreatment of local labour.

Picture handouts dated March 28 and e-mailed to Reuters showCook seen smiling and meeting workers in the newly built FoxconnZhengzhou Technology Park in the central province of Henan. Thefacility employs 120,000 people, the handouts said.

Foxconn is a major part of Apple's global supply chain,assembling most of its iPhones and iPads, but has been hit by astring of worker suicides in recent years that activist groupsblame on tough working conditions.

The group is the Taiwan parent of Hong Kong-listed FoxconnInternational Holdings and Taiwan-listed Hon HaiPrecision .

Cook took the reins at Apple in August after the death ofthe firm's visionary founder, Steve Jobs. His closely guardeditinerary has included talks with Vice Premier Li Keqiang,Beijing's mayor and a visit to one of Apple's two stores in thecapital.

On Wednesday, state media reported that China's vice premierpromised Cook the country would boost intellectual propertyprotection.

"To be more open to the outside is a condition for China totransform its economic development, expand domestic demands andconduct technological innovation," the official Xinhua newsagency cited Vice Premier Li Keqiang as saying.

Apple has tie-ups with China Telecom and ChinaUnicom to sell its iPhone, with the only other Chinesecarrier, China Mobile , the country's biggest mobileoperator, also looking to clinch a deal.

Apple is embroiled in a long-running dispute with Proview -a financially weak technology company that claims to haveregistered the iPad trademark - that is making its way throughChinese courts and threatens to disrupt iPad sales.

(Reporting by Melanie Lee; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)


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Keywords: APPLE CHINA/