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McDonald's is going to nearly double its number of restaurants in China by 2022

NEW YORK -- McDonald's plans to ramp up its China operations by nearly doubling the number of restaurants in the country over the next five years, the U.S. fast-food chain announced on Tuesday.

The company plans to grow its number of outlets in China, which boasts the world's largest population, from 2,500 to 4,500 by 2022.

McDonald's recently sold 80 percent of its China and Hong Kong business to the Chinese state-owned investment group Citic and U.S. private equity firm Carlyle Group as part of President and CEO Steve Easterbrook's strategy to localize the chain's global network.

This will lead to a loss of revenue for McDonald's, but it also reduces costs associated with global expansion and gives the U.S. corporation an income from licence fees.

"China will soon become our largest market outside of the United States," Easterbrook said in a statement.

McDonald's has more than 37,000 locations worldwide, 14,000 of which are in the U.S.

The chain has struggled to profit from the rapidly growing Chinese market and suffered a food safety scare after its regional operations were hit by a rotten meat scandal.

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