BEIJING: Apple, the consumer electronics giant, believes China will one day become its biggest market, and would also consider launching new products in the country before any other nation.

Speaking to Xinhua, Tim Cook, Apple's chief executive, stated the Asian market, where sales rose by 78% to $23.8bn in the last fiscal year, was central to its plans.

"China is currently our second largest market. I believe it will become our first. I believe strongly that it will," he told Xinhua. "We are growing very fast. "

Cook even suggested Apple may debut new lines in China prior to rolling them out elsewhere. "I would love that to happen. China is a very important marketplace for us," he said.

Looking at Apple's existing operations, China Unicom and China Telecom both sell the iPhone, but this is not the case for China Mobile, the number one mobile network with more than 700m subscribers.

Apple's retail portfolio also comprises 11 stores in China and Hong Kong, and it hopes to boost this total to over 25 branches, reflecting the broader development of its local capabilities.

"We are continuing to invest in retail stores here and will open many more over the next several years," said Cook.

"We have some great sites selected, our manufacturing base is here, and we have incredible partners here. So it's a very, very important country to us."

While the relatively high price of Apple's devices constitutes an obstacle for many people in China, Cook asserted that it was not different from any other market in terms of potential demand.

"There are no Apple products that you would look at and say they are not for China," he said. "People around the world, regardless of culture, really want the best products. I think they love that people at Apple create products that make their lives easier and better."

One policy recently introduced by Cook has been to thoroughly assess and benchmark Apple's supply chain, and thus ensure partners like Foxconn have factories meeting a strict code of conduct.

"We care very deeply about every worker that touches an Apple product, whether they are making it, selling it, serving it or marketing it. We hold ourselves to a very high standard there," he said.

Data sourced from Xinhua; additional content by Warc staff