Apple manufacturing partner Foxconn Technology Group has frozen hiring at a Shenzhenplant that makes gadgets including theiPhone5 and put the brakes on recruiting for other factories acrossChina, but said the move was not linked to any single client.

It sought to pour cold water on aFinancial Timesreport that it had imposed a hiring freeze while it slows production of Apple's latestsmartphone.

The company said in a statement that it has "temporarily slowed down recruitment due to an unprecedented rate of return of employees following the Chinese New Year holiday compared to years past".

Like other Chinese contract manufacturers, Foxconn relies on a large number of migrant workers from across the country who journey home for the most important holiday of the year.

Many do not make it back to work, but Foxconn spokesmanLouis Woosaid this year they saw as many as 97 percent of employees return.

Liao Zhengxing, 28, has worked at Foxconn's assembly line for about three years. He said he hoped the company would start hiring again to take some work off his shoulders.

"I hope in the future it (Foxconn) will increase the number of employees to lessen our burden. If it doesn't hire more people over the year, we get a bit tired," Liao said.

Apple sold a less-than-expected 47.8 million iPhones in the 2012 holiday quarter, fanning fears that its dominance of consumer electronics is on the decline as Samsung Electronics Co and other manufacturers that use Google Inc'sAndroidsoftware gradually gain market share.

TheiPhoneis Apple's most important product, accounting for half its revenue.

Presented by Adam Justice