The output of beer in China jumped to 22,310,000 tons in 2000 from 20,880,000 tons in 1999.

And experts estimate that the output will continue increasing at a speed of 1,000,000 tons per year in the near future.

There are more than 400 legal beer companies in China and the biggest three - Tsingtao, Yanjing and Huarun - added up to 4,460,000 tons of production in 2000, 20 % of the total amount.

As Western beer companies start to withraw from China gradually, Japan is becoming the biggest foreign player in the market. Kirin, Japan's leading brewer, has established a joint venture beer company in Guangdong province.

Meanwhile, Asahi, the No.2 in Japan, has set up several joint venture beer companies in Hangzhou and Yantai. Suntory has founded a joint venture beer company in Shanghai and has a 50 % share in the city's beer market .