ZTE Corp, one of the mainland's leading telecommunications equipment vendors, plans to invest 6 billion yuan (HK$6.81 billion) to build a research and development and production base in Xian, the capital of Shaanxi province. The Shenzhen-based company said yesterday the new base in Xian Hi-tech Park would bring its research and development, production, outsourcing services and customer service training under one roof. The new facility, to be named the ZTE Corp Xian R&D and Production Base, will occupy a site area of about 1.33 million square metres and take eight years to complete. The investment will include buildings and structures, equipment and land premium. 'Through the implementation of the project the company will be able to capitalise on the pool of human and other resources in Xian, laying solid foundations for its business development and creating sound economic benefits,' ZTE chairman Hou Weigui said in a statement filed with the stock exchange. 'Investment estimates have indicated sound returns for the company,' Mr Hou said. Xian Hi-tech Industries Development Zone was one of the first national grade technology parks established with the approval of the State Council in March 1991, ZTE said. By the end of last year, the zone had facilities covering an area of 35 square kilometres to accommodate 10,734 companies, including 1,310 domestic firms and 877 foreign-invested companies, the company said. ZTE's board yesterday approved the proposal and will seek shareholders' approval for the project. The company is strengthening research and production as it moves to more advanced products. Last week, ZTE said it would start shipping smartphones using Microsoft Corp's Windows Mobile operating system next year in a move to close the gap with rivals such as Nokia and Sony Ericsson in the high-end handset market.