UNITED States-based pharmaceutical company Schering-Plough Corp is stepping up its operations in China, with a US$15 million plant in the Putuo district of Shanghai. The company has signed an agreement with two Shanghai pharmaceutical groups to build the joint venture facility. The new venture, Shanghai Schering-Plough Pharmaceutical Co, will manufacture advanced products developed by Schering-Plough. It will build an automated, modern pharmaceutical plant, which is expected to begin production in early 1996. Annual production volume is expected to be 233 million tablets, 20,000 kilograms of cream and 1.4 million injectables by the fifth year of operation. Schering-Plough will provide technology and technical assistance. It will also introduce modern management practices and professional training for the joint venture's mainland employees. The venture will provide career development for about 250 people. With global sales of $4.34 billion, Schering-Plough is one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the world. Through its China division, the company will take a 55 per cent equity stake in the joint venture while the Chinese partners, Shanghai Pharmaceutical Industry (Group) Corp and Shanghai Corp of Pharmaceutical Economic and Technical International Co-operation (SPETIC) will contribute 30 per cent and 15 per cent respectively. Schering-Plough International vice-president Ian Price said the new plant would make a variety of leading Schering-Plough products. ''We have been involved in China since 1986 and have had representative offices in Shanghai and Beijing since 1991. ''Through this joint venture with our Shanghai partners, we will be able to manufacture in China some of Schering-Plough's advanced products, making them available locally at reasonable prices.'' Shanghai Pharmaceutical Industry (Group), registered in Shanghai's Pudong district, has import and export licences and combines scientific research, manufacturing and trading. With sales last year of 520 million yuan (about HK$466 million), the company's main products include pharmaceutical materials, pharmaceutical intermediates and preparations. SPETIC, affiliated to the Shanghai Pharmaceutical Administration Bureau, facilitates international trade and technical co-operation with Shanghai's pharmaceutical industry by introducing foreign investment and technology. The company's general manager, Li Mingmei, said: ''The Shanghai pharmaceutical industry and Schering-Plough have had a number of successful joint projects in recent years. ''Schering-Plough has become a trustworthy joint venture partner with huge potential for the Shanghai pharmaceuticals industry.''