Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca has invested US$100 million in a new drug manufacturing facility near Shanghai and expects further investment as China becomes more committed to protecting intellectual property rights. The plant, in Wuxi New District, 200 kilometres northwest of Shanghai, was opened on Saturday. It is one of the largest investments by a Western pharmaceutical company in the mainland, and employs 280 people. A company official said that given the rapid rise in demand for Western drugs in China, AstraZeneca would be looking at further expansion. 'China is becoming more used to Western goods and a Western diet and there is a greater recognition of the Chinese population becoming more prone to Western-style diseases such as cardiovascular illness,' he said. Despite China's reputation for rampant counterfeiting, AstraZeneca believed the country's prospective membership of the World Trade Organisation had improved the government's recognition of the need to protect intellectual property rights. Meanwhile, Syngenta, formed last year from the spin-off of the agrochemical divisions of Novartis and AstraZeneca, has invested US$85 million in a production plant in Nantong to make Kung Fu insecticide and Gramoxone-brand herbicide for domestic and Asian markets.