SABMiller's Chinese beer venture has vowed to "defend its position" after government officials in Chongqing launched a probe into the brewer's operations in the city.

China Resources Snow, which is fighting it out with Tsingtao to become the largest brewer in China, is at the centre of bribery allegations in Chongqing, south-western China.

The allegations surround the promotion and selling of CR Snow's beer brands by the brewer's local brewery, China Resources Blue Sword (Guangan) Brewery Co.

A CR Snow spokesman said: "CR Snow believes this subsidiary conducts its selling activities in accordance with normal trade practice in China and it will take all relevant steps in defending its position in this investigation."

SABMiller's venture partner, Chinese conglomerate China Resources Enterprise, said today (6 September) that beer sales had leapt 28% during the first half of the year. The venture's flagship brand, Snow, saw sales soar 85%.

Earnings from the business rose 26% to HK$75m (US9.6m).