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Apple's first China R&D lab reportedly will create hardware

The new center will focus on "developing advanced technologies, including computer hardware and communications, audio and video equipment."

James Martin/CNET

Apple's not just going to assemble its hardware in China. Now it's also going to develop some of it there.

Apple's new landlord in China has revealed some details about the company's first R&D center in the country. The facility, with 500 employees, "will focus on developing advanced technologies, including computer hardware and communications, audio and video equipment and other devices," the state-owned Zhongguancun Science Park Administrative Committee said Thursday in a social media post obtained by the Wall Street Journal.

Apple didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

China is one of Apple's most important markets, but the company has struggled there in recent months. In July, Apple revealed its quarterly revenue plummeted by a third in the region to $8.8 billion. The Greater China region (the mainland, Taiwan and Hong Kong) had been poised to become Apple's biggest market in the world, but the June quarter results dropped it to No. 3 behind the US and Europe. And earlier this year, China shut down the iTunes movie and books services in the country.

Apple has been trying to improve its situation in China, though. During its developer conference in June, the company showed off China-focused features for its iOS 10 software, and in May it invested $1 billion in Didi Chuxing, China's Uber, possibly part of an attempt to butter up the Chinese government. At the same time, the Chinese government has been trying to expand beyond simply building devices for foreign companies.