The global head of Nanjing Automobile Corporation yesterday gave his personal assurance that the firm will revive car production at Longbridge next year.

In his first interview with a British newspaper, Wang Haoliang (pictured) said Nanjing aimed to start making cars at the site in time for the second anniversary of the Rover collapse next April.

Extensive remodelling of the Rover 75 - to be sold as the MG ZT - and the MG TF sports car was already under way, while Mr Wang said Nanjing (NAC) was in discussions to use the Rover name - "where it belongs, with MG and at Longbridge."

Speculation had mounted that Nanjing may leave Longbridge when it was revealed the 33-year lease it signed with landlord St Modwen had a six-month get-out clause.

Mr Wang, the group chairman of NAC, said his firm was committed to a long-term project at Longbridge, and added that doubts would disappear when the six-month cut-off passed on August 22.

He said: "The acquisition of MG Rover assets and the implementations of the MG Project is part of our internationalisation strategy.

"The project is fully funded; we have the money and we will start producing cars at Longbridge.

"Our plan is going smoothly, and according to that plan we will resume production of the MG TF at Longbridge.

"We have carried out some market research on this model and we think this model still has a very good market in the UK.

"Everything will be accelerated in the next few months."

Mr Wang, who is also chairman of NAC's branch of the Chinese Communist Party, is recognised as the ultimate power in the firm.

His position was compared by Wang Hongbiao, the head of Nanjing's operations in the UK, as "like Tony Blair and the Queen put together".

Mr Wang Haoliang said his firm was bidding to use the Rover name on top of the MG name it acquired when it bought MG Rover from the administrators for #53 million last July.

The Rover name is owned by BMW, but was leased to the John Towers' Phoenix consortium when it made cars at the plant after the German carmaker pulled out in 2000.

BMW last night confirmed that negotiations were ongoing with several interested parties in buying or leasing the Rover name, although no decision had yet been made.

Shanghai Automotive, the other Chinese automotive firm which pulled out of a joint venture triggered the collapse last year, is also believed to be in the running for the Rover name.

Mr Wang said: "MG Rover went into administration, but its brands and technology still have very good value.

"Longbridge has a special and non-replaceable role in the history of the British automotive industry.

"Our resumption of production at Longbridge is the continuation and development of the history and culture of the brands.

"We hope to used the Rover name at the same time with the MG name. Currently we are having negotiations with certain parties and we sincerely hope that we can achieve positive results."