LG Electronics plans to boost mainland handset sales by the millions by the end of next year, despite being a latecomer to the rapidly growing market in China. The South Korean firm expects to sell only about 128,000 code division multiple access (CDMA) handsets this year for China Unicom's network, and does not have a licence to manufacture the more popular global system for mobile communications (GSM) phones on the mainland. But by next year, LG plans to sell more than three million phones in China, two-thirds of them for the GSM network. 'China is going to be our main area of growth in the future,' LG Electronics mobile handset division manager Lee Hye-woong said. Mr Lee said LG would attempt to leverage the success of rival Korean firm Samsung Electronics, which he said had been successful in familiarising Chinese consumers with Korean handsets. LG plans to target the higher-end of the handset market, with phones geared towards affluent, tech-savvy consumers. 'There are common things between Chinese consumers and Korean consumers in that they both want advanced phones,' Mr Lee said. Until a GSM licence can be obtained, LG's prospects of selling its own handsets are linked to China Unicom, the mainland's second-largest mobile carrier. Mr Lee said if China Unicom met its goal of having seven million to eight million CDMA subscribers, LG hoped to gain a 30 per cent share of that market. 'If people in China want advanced CDMA phones, they will have to go to LG or Samsung to get them,' he said. Earlier this month, LG said it expected to export 11 million handsets worth US$1.7 billion this year, up from seven million units and US$1 billion in revenue last year. Meanwhile, Chinese software developer Shandong Langchao Cheeloosoft has purchased a major stake in a CDMA handset joint venture operation with LG Electronics. Shandong owns 46 per cent of the operation, which was set up in January and will be based in Shandong province, while LG Electronics has 49 per cent.