GKN plc of the UK has officially opened its latest manufacturing operation in China.

The new business - GKN Zhongyuan Cylinder Liner Company Limited (GKNZ) - is a joint venture between GKN, which holds 59% of the company and Henan Zhongyuan Engine Fittings Stock Company which holds 41%.

The new plant, which has been established on a greenfield site in Mengzhou City, Henan Province, will produce truck engine cylinder liners.

Construction of the green field facility began in April 2005 and early production trials were under way by the end of last year. At its full capacity, which is due on stream by the end of 2006, the site will produce three million cylinder liners a year for domestic and export markets and will employ around 700 people.

By this time, the two partners will have jointly invested some GBP16.3m in the facility, which incorporates full foundry and machining operations.

GKN has been in China for 17 years and currently employs 2,000 people there. This is expected to double.