McDonald’s – recently in retreat in some parts of the world – is planning rapid expansion in one relatively untapped market: China.

Chief executive Jim Cantalupo revealed that the burger behemoth will open 100 stores in the world’s most populous nation in 2004 and maintain a similar rate of expansion in the following years.

Serving two million Chinese customers a day, the golden arches can already be found at 566 outlets in 94 cities throughout the land. The new restaurants will be opened in both existing coastal markets and new areas inland.

Since breaching the bamboo curtain in 1992, McDonald’s has invested $700 million (€632m; £441m) in supply networks and $1 billion on the eateries themselves. The Chinese operations are now the burger chain’s seventh-largest by revenue and turn a profit.

However, McDonald’s Chinese expansion pales in comparison with that of rival stateside fast food vendor KFC, which already has 900 outlets in the country and is planning to open 200 a year in the future.

Data sourced from: The Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff