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Microsoft plans to add 1,000 staff to its workforce in China over the next year, a move aimed bolstering its foothold in a key market with serious growth potential, Reuters reports.

Ralph Haupter, CEO for the software giant’s Greater China division, told reporters in Beijing that the new employees will work in research and development, sales, marketing and services.

Microsoft shells out $500 million a year on R&D in China and plans to increase that by 15 percent in the next year, Ya-Qin Zhang, chairman of the company’s Asia Pacific R&D group, told Reuters.

Microsoft employs 4,500 workers in China, where software piracy and regulation have been stumbling blocks. The company is making inroads by reaching large swaths of Chinese customers like local governments and public institutions, Haupter said.

With the new hires, Microsoft’s China workforce will be almost as big as its staff in India, where it employs 5,800 people.

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