A Lenovo executive recently told WRAL Tech Wire that he considers Apple the company’s biggest competition.

Well, that competition is about to become more intense.

Apple will soon start selling its newest mobile devices on Lenovo’s home turf = China.

Lenovo dominates computer sales in China, is growing ever stronger in smartphone sales there and is hoping its tablets prove a counter to iPad mania, but Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) won’t give Lenovo any more time to prepare for its latest device onslaught where Apple products are given almost cult status.

The iPhone 5 and iPad Mini tablet will start selling in China next month.

The iPad Mini will be available Dec. 7 in China and the iPhone 5 will be sold a week later, Apple said Friday in a statement that didn’t specify which wireless carriers will offer the smartphone.

China contributed revenue of $23.8 billion in Apple’s fiscal year ended in September, accounting for 15 percent of the total and up 78 percent from the previous year, Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook said last month on a conference call. He projected at the time the iPhone 5 would arrive in China in December.

The company introduced the smaller version of the iPad last month to help keep customers from buying low-cost tablets from competitors such as Microsoft Corp., Amazon.com Inc. and Google Inc. It debuted the new version of the iPhone, responsible for a third of profit, in September.

Lenovo is expanding its own smartphone sales efforts to countries outside of China with Russia announced as the latest addition this week. 

Lenovo has started offering its S880 and P700i models in the country, its fifth overseas market for the devices, spokesman Chris Millward told Bloomberg.

Chief Executive Officer Yang Yuanqing’s PC maker surpassed Hewlett-Packard Co. last quarter as the world’s largest and Yang has said he intends to seek growth in global sales of mobile devices.

Lenovo, which introduced its first touch-screen handset in China in 2010, in the past four months expanded sales to India, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines.

The company is the second-largest smartphone maker in China and plans to seize the top spot from Samsung Electronics Co., Milko Van Duijl, president for the Asia-Pacific and Latin America regions, said in an interview last month.

Lenovo’s mobile Internet and digital home unit, which makes smartphones, more than doubled revenue to $1.31 billion in the first half of the year. The company’s total sales rose 11 percent to $8.67 billion.

 Lenovo operates its global executive headquarters in Morrisville.

[LENOVO ARCHIVE: Check out seven years of Lenovo stories as reported in WRAL Tech Wire.]

(Bloomberg contributed to this report.)