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OAK BROOK, IL-McDonald’s Corp. is continuing its expansion in China, though at a slightly slower pace than previously announced, executives said at the company’s third-quarter conference call.

The company will open 140 restaurants this year, down from the previously expected 175, said Ralph Alvarez, president and COO. Sales in China have slowed as the recession has hit that economy. Unlike in North America and Europe, where McDonald’s is a low-cost dining option, Chinese consumers have lower-priced alternatives for eating out.

However, “At the moment, we are not changing our strategy,” Alvarez said. “The long-term strategy remains.” The company just opened its 1,000th restaurant in China–all of them company-owned, as McDonalds’ investigates a franchise system there.

“We’ve opened 62 restaurants already this year,” Alvarez said. Expansion in Europe will grow “at an appropriate pace,” he added.

The company reported worldwide sales of $5.1 billion, down 10% from the same quarter in 2008. Global comparable sales rose 4.3%, with the United States up 4.7%, Europe up 3.2% and Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa up 5.5%. Net income was $979.5 million, up 4% from the prior-year period. McDonald’s operates more than 31,000 restaurants in 118 countries worldwide.

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