TWO major accountancy firms have increased the level of participation by international accountants on the mainland. Following in the footsteps of other internationals, Grant Thornton has established a joint venture in Beijing as a base for expanding its operations throughout China. Meanwhile, the first international accounting and management consulting firm to have an office on the mainland has taken another step towards creating a regional network by opening its sixth representative office. Coopers and Lybrand, which has been in China since 1981, has set up an office in the northern coastal city of Dalian in Liaoning province, and signed co-operative agreements with two large local accounting firms, Dalian Certified Public Accountants and Dalian LianXin CPAs. Grant Thornton partner Anthony Tyen said the joint venture with Beijing CPAs was a move towards ultimately accepting Beijing CPAs as a member firm. 'We aren't attempting to take over their client base. We will co-operate in developing new clients and help in the process of bringing Chinese accounting standards closer to international practices,' Mr Tyen said. It was a matter of communication, rather than one of imposing a system on them. Grant Thornton's joint venture comes as China shifts gears from requiring foreign accountants to enter joint ventures, to encouraging them to accept Chinese firms as members. In October, Zhonghua Shenzhen became the first mainland accountancy firm to privatise and enter a partnership when it teamed up with Howarth International. Grant Thornton is only the eighth foreign accounting firm to establish joint ventures in China. Coopers and Lybrand's chief representative Fuminori Nakamoto said the opening of the Dalian office was a response to the growing importance of the port city as a centre for investment by companies from Japan, Hong Kong and the United States, among others.