Foxconn chief Terry Gou did not give a figure for the costs, but the group has been spending heavily to fight a perception its vast plants in China are sweatshops with poor conditions for its million-strong labor force. It regards the criticism as unfair. "We've discovered that this (improving factory conditions) is not a cost. It is a competitive strength," Gou told reporters on Thursday after the ground-breaking ceremony for a new China headquarters in Shanghai. "I believe Apple sees this as a competitive strength along with us, and so we will split the initial costs."