Apple Inc. Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook is making his second visit to China in less than 10 months, after almost doubling retail outlets in the nation.

The trip reflects China’s growing importance to Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) as a source for smartphone as well as tablet (iPad), laptop and PC sales.

Its primary competitors in China include Lenovo, which dominates the PC market, and Samsung, the market leader in smartphones although Lenovo is closing that gap.

Lenovo considers Apple a major threat to its China business and earlier this week unveiled a corporate reorganization partly as a result of its strategy to combat Apple.

Cook on Tuesday met Miao Wei, head of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, to talk about the development of China’s information technology industry, global mobile communications and Apple’s business in China, according to a statement posted on the ministry’s website.

The Apple chief had visited China in March and pledged “greater investment” in the world’s largest market for computers and mobile phones. Since then, the Cupertino, California-based company has almost doubled its number of stores in China and Hong Kong to 11, from six at the time of Cook’s last visit.

Apple opened its first store in Beijing’s Sanlitun district in 2008. It now has three shops each in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong, as well as one each in Chengdu and Shenzhen.

Carolyn Wu, spokeswoman for Apple,  told Bloomberg news that no other details were available on Cook’s meeting with Miao. Wu said she had no information on how long Cook will be in China, or whom else he will meet.

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