DuPont said Thursday it will build a new $80 million factory in Zhangjiagang, Jiangsu province, China, a sign the company plans to continue expanding in China in the face of current trade tensions and following its planned split-off from DowDuPont next spring.

The plant in the Yangtze River International Chemical Industrial Park will supply DuPont Zytel nylon engineering plastics, Delrin acetal resins, Hytrel polyesters, multibase elastomers, and other thermoplastics, lubricants and silicones to "customers in transportation, electronics, industrial and consumer products markets," DuPont said. The plant is expected to open in stages from 2020-23.

"This investment reinforces our commitment to China and the Asian market where we see strong growth potential across our businesses," delivering "high-growth end uses in a cost-effective" way, with the "cooperation of the Zhangjiagang [municipal] government," Randy Stone, president of DuPont Transportation & Advanced Polymers, said in a statement.

He expects China electric and hybrid automakers to buy more from the plant as production expands. The company has plants worldwide and has also stepped up its U.S. investments, Stone added.

DuPont and its affiliates have expanded rapidly in China as the nation became the world's leading industrial producer since the 1970s. Despite industrial espionage by Chinese interests seeking to acquire Western manufacturing secrets and trade tensions  that have flared since President Trump adopted a harder line than his predecessors, big U.S. manufacturers are signalling they expect to continue growing in that country.

DuPont opened its largest engineering plastics plant in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, China, two years ago. Its sister DowDuPont pesticide and seed company, which will be spun off next year as Corteva Agrisciences, has also expanded in China recently, as has Dow Chemical Co., which plans to spin off from DowDuPont in the Spring.