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Hon Hai seeking 18,000 new skilled workers in China for 2017

Key Apple subcontractor works to appease both Beijing and Washington

TAIPEI -- Hon Hai Precision Industry aims to hire about 18,000 skilled workers in mainland China this year in a bid to demonstrate its contribution to the local economy, as the Taiwanese i-Phone assembler attempts to satisfy drives by both the U.S. and Chinese governments to promote domestic industry.

Hon Hai Chairman Terry Gou made the announcement Monday to local media in the Chinese city of Shenzhen, Guangdong Province. Also known as Foxconn, the world's largest contract electronics manufacturer is planning to hire 12,000 university graduates and 6,000 high school and vocational school graduates by the end of the year.

Hon Hai on average hires a little over 7,000 such workers annually on the mainland. The 2017 target is its largest on record, according to the company.

In Taipei in January, Gou said Hon Hai was considering investing $7 billion to build an LCD panel factory in the United States -- a nod to President Donald Trump's campaign to revive the American manufacturing sector. But Beijing is wary of losing its own industries. By also stressing its commitment to the mainland, the company is hoping to strike a balance between the two economic superpowers.

Given that 7.95 million mainland Chinese will graduate from universities and vocational schools in 2017, finding them jobs is a difficult task, Hon Hai said in a release pledging its full support for the goal. The statement also touched on China's National People's Congress, which will convene March 5. The timing of the announcement of its 2017 hiring target is seen as the company sending a message to Beijing ahead of the key political event.

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