City firm Ashurst has become the latest to broker links with the Chinese market after announcing the opening of a new office in Shanghai’s free trade zone.

The joint operation office (JOO), set-up with Chinese firm Guantao, will enable Ashurst will be able to practise local law in China. It is the fourth such office to be approved by the Chinese authorities.

Guantao has more than 150 partners and has 600 qualified lawyers in 15 offices in China, as well as offices in Sydney, New York and Toronto.

Ashurst formed a ’strategic alliance’ with the firm in 2008 and the two have been co-operating closely since then.

Paul Jenkins, managing partner of Ashurst, said: ‘This is an exciting development and demonstrates our full commitment to further growth in the greater China region.’

Liguo Cui, Guantao managing partner, added: ‘We are confident that the JOO will bring us continued success in the domestic and international legal markets.’

Ashurst’s partnership follows that of Bird & Bird which has agreed a deal with China-based AllBright Law.

AllBright, which has 16 offices across China and around 370 partners, is among the largest in China. The agreement, announced last year, secured the firm an international representative office in Bird & Bird’s City office in New Fetter Lane. The representative office will officially open next month.