AMERICAN telecommunications giant A T & T (China) has signed a US$100 million joint-venture to upgrade a switch-ing systems manufacturing operation in northern China. The venture in Qingdao, Shandong, which is one of the company's largest outside the United States, will design, develop, market and produce AT & T's flagship switching system, the 5ESS switch. Partners in the venture include China International Trust and Investment Corp (CITIC), Shandong Posts and Telecommunications Administration, China Electronics and Hisense Electronic. Officials expect the joint venture will have shifted from simple assembly to full-fledged manufacturing by the end of the year. In a separate agreement signed on Thursday, AT & T agreed to transfer technology to Huajing Electronics Corp Group, an affiliate of the Ministry of Electronics Industry, to expand China's micro-electronics industry. The technology will allow China to process and design very large scale integration devices. These devices reduce the size of chips and give better performance while using less power. AT & T will also train Huajing engineers. AT & T (China) chairman William Warwick said: 'A T & T is pleased to work closely with the Chinese enterprises to develop capabilities locally to address local customers' technology and telecommunications needs.' He said A T & T Microelectronics had set up a local office in Shanghai, which would focus on market expansion, design, technology application and customer support. State Planning Commission vice-chairman Ye Qing, Electronics Industry vice-minister Zhang Jinqiang and Posts and Telecommunications vice-minister Lin Jinquan attended a signing ceremony in Beijing yesterday.