United States-based insurer New York Life International has committed to invest more than US$60 million in China, mostly in infrastructure projects in the country's western provinces. The plan is in line with Beijing's intention of attracting more overseas investment to China's relatively undeveloped west and to enable it to catch up with the prosperous eastern provinces. New York Life chief investment officer Anne Pollack, on her way to Chengdu for a business forum tomorrow, said there were promising investment opportunities in western China. 'There are not so many investors in the west of China. It is a good thing as it means there is not much competition,' she said. Ms Pollack said New York Life had committed to invest more than US$60 million in many direct-investment China projects. They included sewage projects, water treatment plants, power plants, roads, and other public facilities. Many are in Sichuan province - heartland of western China. Ms Pollack said many of the projects were long term in nature and they would provide steady returns. New York Life was hoping Beijing would grant it a licence to sell insurance in China, which would enable it to invest more in the country, she said. The company has four representative offices in China - Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chengdu. However, these were for liaison purposes only and were not allowed to sell insurance policies. Under US regulations, New York Life can invest no more than 10 per cent of its assets outside the United States. However, any premium income raised by selling insurance policies in an overseas country can be invested in that country. 'This has limited our ability to invest in China,' Ms Pollack said. 'If we had a licence in China, we would be able to invest the money we raise from selling policies in Chinese projects. 'It would increase our investment.' Founded in 1845 in New York, the insurer's biggest market is the United States. It entered the Asian market in 1988 and decided to expand rapidly in the region in 1998 - a year after the regional financial turmoil began. 'We believe the financial crisis in the region was short-term while we plan to be here for the long term,' Ms Pollack said. 'The region is in the process of recovery and we can achieve good returns by investing in Asia.'