TANGSHAN, the northern city in Hebei province where 240,000 people died in an earthquake in 1976, will not have any major earthquake in the next two centuries, officials quoted experts as saying. A vice-mayor of the city, Wang Shiyi, said: ''Foreign investors can have their mind put at ease because experts have ruled out the possibility of any massive earthquake in the next 200 years. ''They can feel secure to put their money here.'' With billions of yuan pumping from the central government and thousands of volunteers from other parts of the mainland, the devastated city has been rebuilt. Most of the buildings are now made with a higher standard of concrete. Although officials admitted there were still minor earthquakes, they said a major earthquake, like the one that killed almost all the city's population in July 1976, was only a remote possibility. A 30-year-old cadre who survived the disaster, said they were not afraid of another earthquake. ''The memories are still fresh. It's just like something that took place yesterday. But everybody knows that it will not happen again,'' she said. To the six million population, the most important task is to catch up with the development of other parts of the country. Hebei city, a three-hour drive from Beijing, is now ready to embark on another campaign to boost its economy by luring more foreign funds. In addition to massive investment in infrastructure, key firms in the city have been shortlisted for partnership with foreign counterparts. One is Tangshan Pottery Factory, which was established in 1914 and specialises in the production of sinks and toilets. Factory director Rong Chengrui said the standard of their products was still below that of other countries such as the United States and Britain. ''Foreign investment will help us compete in the world market,'' he said. ''We welcome all kinds of co-operation.'' A traditional centre of pottery production, Tangshan faces growing competition from Jinde town in Jiangxi province and Guangdong's Foshan city. The Hebei provincial government has decided to provide funds to turn the city into one of the four special economic zones in the province. This would increase the city's competitiveness, officials said.