JARDINE CMG Life plans to expand into the giant, emerging China life insurance market. It hopes to open a representative office by the end of this year, but it could be five or six years before the company will be able to begin retailing life insurance policies. By law, a life insurance company must have a representative office in China for three years before it can apply for a licence to retail policies. Jardine CMG, equally owned by Jardine Pacific and Australian-based Colonial Mutual Group, is also looking to expand into Malaysia, Thailand and Taiwan. Since forming the joint venture in 1990, Jardine CMG has built significant market niches in Hongkong, the Philippines, Singapore and Indonesia. Research is being done on how to best break into the China. ''We've been eyeing the market for quite some time,'' said Colonial Mutual's chief executive Peter Smedley. ''It is the largest potential market in the Far East.'' He said the company had decided to take a slow and cautious approach to the China market, anxious to make sure when it did make its move it was the right one. The mainland insurance market is dominated by the state-owned People's Insurance Co of China. China is close to finalising new legislation to govern its insurance industry ready for an expected foreign invasion. Mr David May, Jardine CMG chief executive, said: ''We are very clear about entering the China market, but we want to be sure we take the right approach.''