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A uniform chromium-free conversion coating treated with an alkaline phosphate- permanganate solution was formed on the AZ 31 magnesium alloy. The effect of acid pickling on the morphology and on the corrosion resistance of the alkaline phosphate-permanganate conversion coating was investigated. The chemical composition and phase structure of conversion coating layer were determined via optical microscopy, SEM,EDS, XPS and XRD. Results show that the conversion coatings are relatively uniform and continuous, with thickness 1.8 to 2.4 μm. The alkaline phosphate-permanganate conversion coating was mainly composed of elements Mg, O, P, Al and Mn. The conversion-coated layers were stable compounds of magnesium oxide and spinel (MgAl_2O_4). These compounds were excellent inhibitors to corrosion. The electrochemical corrosion behaviors of coatings in 3.5 wt.% NaCl solutions were evaluated by electrochemical impedance spectroscopy,potentiodynamic polarization technique. EIS results showed a polarization resistance of 0.1 kΩ for the untreated Mg and 16 kΩ for the alkaline phosphate-permanganate conversion treatment sample, giving an improvement of about 160 times. The results of the electrochemical measurements demonstrated that the corrosion resistance of the AZ 31 magnesium alloy was improved by the alkaline phosphate-permanganate conversion treatment