Danone's China adventure has taken yet another colourful turn.

Hangzhou Wahaha, Danone's partner in a joint venture in the country, said yesterday (13 June) that it will seek arbitration in its long-running clash with the French company. Earlier this month, Danone filed a lawsuit against Hangzhou Wahaha, alleging that it is illegally selling products which are the same as those sold by the joint ventures and is making unlawful use of the joint ventures' distributors and suppliers.

Speaking at a press briefing in the city of Hangzhou, Zong Qing Hou, chairman of Hangzhou Wahaha, said: "We will file with the Hangzhou Arbitration Commission as soon as possible." Speaking beneath a banner that read: "Steadfastly resist Danone's hostile takeover and resolutely protect the brand name of Wahaha," Zong accused Danone of harming his reputation.

"There is no way back," he continued. "We will try our best to be responsible to our employees and preserve the Wahaha brand name."

Zong resigned from his position as chairman of the joint venture earlier this month.

When contacted by just-drinks today, a spokesperson for Danone declined to comment on the matter. "The situation is no different to when we issued a statement earlier this week," the spokesperson said. "We have nothing to add."

Established in 1996, the Danone Wahaha joint venture is 49%-owned by Zong, with Danone holding 51%. The Wahaha brand covers water, lactic beverages, energy drinks and RTD teas in China.