The world's seventh-largest pharmaceutical and chemical group Rhone-Poulenc is speeding up its investment in China despite uncertainty over when it will realise any returns. Group senior executive vice-president Jean-Pierre Tirouflet, who is in Hong Kong to meet institutional investors, said its China experience was too short to determine when profit would start to accrue. 'It is difficult to make a profit immediately because we don't know how [the market] will turn around, but we believe it will be strong in this country,' he said. French-based Rhone-Poulenc's first investment within China was in 1994 and it has since then established 17 joint ventures with state-owned enterprises. During French President Jacques Chirac's visit to China last week, Rhone-Poulenc signed a 500 million French franc (HK$670 million) joint-venture agreement with Hangzhou General Pesticide Plant, the second-largest manufacturer of plant protection products in China.