Beijing: Apple CEO Tim Cook has in an interview with news portal predicted that China will be the company’s largest market in two years.

Visiting China, Cook announced Apple’s plans here include both a huge expansion in the number of Apple stores, and the introduction of Apple Pay, the company’s electronic payments system.

According to reports in Chinese media, the technology giant is talking to Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba and to banks on plans to launch Apple Pay.

Cook said China would be Apple’s largest market within two years and that the number of Apple stores in China would almost double to 40 within that time frame.

Last month, Apple reported 71 percent revenue growth in China during the preceding quarter.

With this, China overtook Europe to become Apple’s second largest market only to the US.

The company also reported quarterly sales of the iPhone in China at 61 million units, exceeding sales in the US.

Cook, who has visited China five times in the last three years, announced on a Chinese social networking site that Apple would collaborate with the World Wildlife Fund to reduce the amount of paper in its product packaging, and to protect 405,000 hectares of Chinese forests.

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