China's richest man is considering spending $200 million on a milk powder processing plant in the South West.

Beverage billionaire Zong Qinghou talked about possible sites last weekend in Busselton and met Agriculture Minister Terry Redman, who is encouraging foreign investment in WA's dairy industry.

The Bloomberg Billionaire Index released this week put Mr Zong's worth at $21.6 billion as China's wealthiest person. His Hangzhou Wahaha Group is one of China's main drink companies and produces juice, soft drinks, food and children's clothes.

The billionaire, who says he lives on $20 a day, met City of Busselton top brass and Department of Agriculture officials.

Busselton mayor Ian Stubbs said yesterday the discussions with Mr Zong were confidential.

"It was a lovely experience to meet Mr Zong, a great experience, and we gave him a briefing on the City of Busselton," he said.

The department helped organise the meeting as part of a four-day visit from September 1 by 300 delegates from Zhejiang province to make the 25th anniversary of its sister-state relationship with WA.

Mr Zong is from Zhejiang, which is on the south-east coast below Shanghai.

An agricultural tour included the University of WA future farm and a Pingelly grain farm.

A department spokeswoman said one Chinese agro-enterprise was interested in dairy processing and potentially other products and met local contacts in the South West.

A dairy farmer, who did not want to be named, said he would wait until Mr Zong's plans were advanced before commenting publicly on the meetings.

"It all seems rather blue sky to me at the moment," he said.

Mr Zong could not be contacted yesterday.

In September last year, he met wine industry leaders in Margaret River.

On Wednesday, Mr Redman put himself at odds with some Federal Nationals by encouraging greater Chinese investment in WA farms and agricultural businesses.

"Certainly in my broad discussion with farmers, they tell me there are more opportunities than issues with foreign investment and they support foreign investment in the supply chain and support us at the State level playing a greater role in that," he said.

The West Australian

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