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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 February, 2004, 10:49 GMT
McDonald's bets on Chinese growth
McDonald's outlet in Beijing
China is one of the few big growth markets
Fast food outlet McDonald's has said it is planning almost to double its outlets in China ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The burger chain has also agreed a fresh eight-year deal to sponsor the games for an unrevealed sum.

"It's an investment we obviously think is worth it for the long term," said McDonald's chairman Jim Cantalupo.

The company is currently trying to widen its global appeal and target young people, its officials have said.

Young appeal

McDonald's is about to announce that it will sponsor the 2006 winter games in Turin, Italy; the 2010 winter Games in Vancouver, Canada; and the 2012 summer games, as well as the Olympics in Beijing.

This year we'll build more restaurants in China than in any other country
Charlie Bell
In China, the outlet operates 580 restaurants but expects that number to increase to 1,000 by the time the 2008 games open. It has 30,000 stores worldwide.

"This year we'll build more restaurants in China than in any other country," McDonald's executive Charlie Bell said.

The company has signed up Chinese basketball star Yao Ming of the Houston Rockets as an official spokesman.

He will participate in promotions tied to the Olympics, executives said.

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