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Apple CEO, Tim Cook, visits Foxconn

Apple's CEO, Tim Cook, visited the Foxconn factory and met with China’s vice premier Li Keqiang.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during an Apple product launch event at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on March 7, 2012 in San Francisco, California. Cook visited the Foxconn manufacturing plant where the iPhone is assembled around March 26, 2012, said media reports. (Kevork Djansezian/AFP/Getty Images)

Apple's chief executive, Tim Cook, visited the Foxconn manufacturing plant where the iPhone is assembled earlier this week, according to media reports released Thursday.

Foxconn had been embroiled in controversy earlier this year when The New York Times revealed the harsh conditions and long hours that workers have to face, which have led in recent years to a string of worker suicides and accidents, prompting a public outcry and petitions to boycott Apple products.

Foxconn reportedly employs 120,000 people, said Reuters, and picture handouts dated March 28 showed Cook smiling while meeting workers in the newly built Zhengzhou Technology Park.

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Details of Cook's visit were scarce, but The Washington Post said Cook did meet China’s vice premier Li Keqiang, according to the Chinese state-run news agency Xinhua.

The topics of discussion at the meeting reportedly included intellectual property issues, improving cooperation between China and multinational corporations and working conditions in Chinese factories, said The Post.

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Li, widely believed to be China's premier-in-waiting, told Cook that multinationals should "pay more attention to caring for workers," according to the AFP.

Apple said in a statement to the AFP, "Tim had great meetings with Vice Premier Li and other top officials in Beijing. China is very important to us and we look forward to even greater investment and growth here."

In addition to the controversy at Foxconn, Apple is also engaged in a trademark dispute over the "iPad" with Proview Technology, a Chinese computer firm that seeks to block sales of Apple's popular tablet in China.

Bloomberg noted that Apple joined the Fair Labor Association in January, opening its suppliers' factories to inspections by the group, which has yet to release its reports, though CEO Auret van Heerden did say the group found "tons of issues" as well as "dramatic" improvements.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/china/120329/apple-ceo-tim-cook-visits-foxconn