The Government is still placing its hopes in China's carmaker to rescue MG Rover, Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt has revealed.

The Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation has said it is no longer interested in a deal. But at the launch of Labour's General Election manifesto, Mrs Hewitt said Ministers still hoped the Chinese could be convinced.

Gordon Brown also indicated that he believed a deal with China was possible, saying the sooner an agreement was reached the better it would be for workers at MG Rover's Longbridge plant.

MG Rover announced plans for a partnership last June, but the talks stalled after China discovered the extent of the firm's financial problems.

SAIC ruled out a rescue bid earlier this week, saying it was "not interested'' in further talks while Longbridge remained in administration.

Mrs Hewitt said yesterday: "We are doing everything that we possibly can to save jobs and secure the future of car manufacturing at Longbridge.

"Right at the moment, all of our focus, all of our work, is on getting the right proposal to the Chinese."

She added: "If the Conservatives had their way and cut, as they are promising to do, £500 million from the DTI budget then there would be no prospect of any lifeline for the Rover workers."

Mr Brown said: "The sooner this matter is resolved with the Chinese and others, the better it will be for the Rover workforce. Our thoughts are with the work force at Rover but also all the suppliers across the UK."