TYCOON Li Ka-shing has signed an agreement with Guangdong province to build a coal-fired power plant in Zhuhai, the special economic zone next to Macau. The first phase of the project, involving an investment of US$1.18 billion, consists of two sets of 660,000-kilowatt generators and is expected to be completed and in operation by 1995. Cheung Kong (Holdings), Hutchison Whampoa and Bright World Enterprise together hold a 45 per cent stake in the project. The remaining 55 per cent is owned by the Guangdong Electricity Group and the Zhuhai Special Economic Zone Power Development Corp. Under the plan, the total capacity of the power plant will be 3.72 million kilowatts and total investment will reach $3 billion. The plant is said to be the first of its kind to be built through co-operation between Guangdong and Hongkong. Guangdong has been plagued by a shortage of energy to cope with its rapid economic development over the past decade. Provincial vice-governor Zhang Gaoli said the project, one of the largest in Guangdong, was regarded as one of the key infrastructure projects in the Eighth Five-Year Plan to 1995. On completion, the power plant will serve as the power-house of Zhuhai's ambitious programme to develop its western district from a huge piece of farmland into a new city. Speaking at the signing of the agreement yesterday, Zhuhai mayor Liang Guangda said the plant, together with a deepwater harbour, an airport, a railway linking Zhuhai and Guangzhou and a Pearl River delta expressway would put Zhuhai's development on a new level. Zhuhai aims to become another ''Asian dragon'' after Hongkong, Taiwan, Singapore and South Korea, with a total investment of 235 billion yuan (about HK$317.25 billion) in fixed assets over the next 15 years. It also plans to build a bridge to Hongkong. The plan has been submitted to Beijing for approval. Speaking after the ceremony, which was also attended by Guangdong party secretary Xie Fei, Mr Li said his investment in China would not be affected by runaway inflation and the depreciation of the yuan. ''I am confident the Chinese Government has the means to deal with the current economic problems,'' he said. ''Although there are short-term ups and downs, investment in China should be considered on a long-term basis,'' he added. Mr Li yesterday also signed an agreement with Guangdong to build a section of the expressway between Shenzhen and Shantou, two other special economic zones in the province. The 140 km long road involves an investment of 2.5 billion yuan. A subsidiary of Cheung Kong has a 30 per cent stake in the project while the remaining 70 per cent is owned by five Guangdong companies. Construction will start in the second half of this year and is scheduled to be completed in 1996. Mr Li said the expressway would play an important role in the economic development of southern China. ''A lot of residents along the expressway will benefit from the project,'' he said.