Wahaha Group will start selling a new tea drink without the participation of its estranged partner Groupe Danone.

The Chinese firm said today (21 June), that launching its new product without the participation of Danone demonstrated how it wants to distance itself from the French group, following their dispute over the control of the Wahaha brand.

The latest twist in this saga follows recent reports that Wahaha has had an arbitration application for the dispute accepted by the Hangzhou Arbitration Commission.

Earlier in the 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 venture and, in doing so, making unlawful use of the joint ventures' distributors and suppliers.

Established in 1996, the Danone Wahaha joint venture is 49%-owned by Zong Qinghou who recently resigned from the position of chairman of the joint venture. Danone holds the remaining 51%.

Speaking to local reporters about the new tea launch not involving Danone, Wahaha Beijing general manager Liu Hong said: "We must expel Danone from Wahaha or the fight will never end."