China's government has ordered Apple's iPod manufacturing partner to let its 200,000 workers set up and join a trade union.

Workers at the Foxconn-owned Hongfujin Precision Industry will be entitled to join the union, which would be affiliated to the government's All-China Federation of Trade Unions, reports Associated Press.

China has been compelling companies with foreign investors to allow state-sanctioned labour unions.

The news comes in the same week as the Foxconn company launched legal action alleging defamation against Chinese journalists, and folllows the Mail On Sunday's recent investigation into conditions at the iPod manufacturing plant.