China ‘at­trac­tive’ to US firms: FM For­eign Min­is­ter Hua Chun­y­ing cites speed, open­ness of China

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSS AMERICA - By WANG QINGYUN in Bei­jing and PAUL WELITZKIN in New York

China re­mains a “highly at­trac­tive” des­ti­na­tion for com­pa­nies from the United States, For­eign Min­istry spokes­woman Hua Chun­y­ing said on Wed­nes­day, re­fut­ing a sur­vey re­port pub­lished on the same day by a US busi­ness or­ga­ni­za­tion.

In the 2017 China Busi­ness Cli­mate Sur­vey Re­port, the Amer­i­can Cham­ber of Com­merce in China said more than 80 per­cent of its 462 mem­ber com­pa­nies sur­veyed “feel for­eign busi­nesses are less wel­come in China than be­fore”, and more than 60 per­cent ex­pressed a lack of con­fi­dence in the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment’s com­mit­ment to fur­ther open­ing China’s mar­kets.

In re­sponse, Hua quoted statis­tics is­sued by the Min­istry of Com­merce, which show that the US’ ac­tual in­vest­ment in China wit­nessed a year-on-year in­crease of 52.6 per­cent in 2016.

“The speed and ex­tent of the open­ness of China’s mar­kets is ob­vi­ous to all,” Hua said.

She also echoed a speech de­liv­ered by Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping at the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum in Davos, Switzer­land, on Tues­day, in which the pres­i­dent said “China will keep its door wide open and not close it”.

“An open door al­lows other coun­tries to ac­cess Chi­nese mar­kets, and China it­self to in­te­grate with the world,” Xi said. “We hope that other coun­tries will also keep their doors open to Chi­nese in­vestors and keep the play­ing field level for us.”

On Jan 12, the State Coun­cil is­sued a no­tice in which it asked au­thor­i­ties at dif­fer­ent lev­els to im­ple­ment 20 mea­sures it had de­signed in or­der to make more ac­tive use of for­eign in­vest­ment and to cre­ate a more fa­vor­able en­vi­ron­ment for busi­ness.

On Wed­nes­day, Hua re­it­er­ated that the essence of China-US trade is mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial, and China “wel­comes all coun­tries to in­vest here”.

“In many ar­eas of the econ­omy that should be driv­ing growth — from fi­nance and in­sur­ance, to lo­gis­tics and health­care — the hand­brake of reg­u­la­tion is still firmly on,” Wil­liam Zarit, chair­man of Amer­i­can Cham­ber of Com­merce in China said in a state­ment. “Glob­al­iza­tion doesn’t just mean ex­port­ing and buy­ing up for­eign as­sets, but also mak­ing sure that Chi­nese work­ers, pri­vate com­pa­nies, farm­ers and con­sumers ben­e­fit from dy­namic, open mar­kets for goods and ser­vices.”

More com­pa­nies are slow­ing in­vest­ments and down­grad­ing China as an in­vest­ment des­ti­na­tion due to slow­ing growth and in­creased con­cerns over bar­ri­ers to mar­ket en­try, the reg­u­la­tory en­vi­ron­ment, and ris­ing costs, the sur­vey found. The per­cent­age of com­pa­nies that say China is a top three global pri­or­ity dropped to 56 per­cent this year, com­pared with a peak of 78 per­cent of com­pa­nies in 2012.

A to­tal of 462 com­pa­nies were sur­veyed dur­ing and af­ter Don­ald Trump’s Novem­ber elec­tion vic­tory, and it showed 72 per­cent of mem­bers felt that pos­i­tive USChina re­la­tions were “crit­i­cal” to busi­ness, but only 17 per­cent thought they would im­prove in 2017.

Li Gang, vice-pres­i­dent of the Min­istry of Com­merce’s Chi­nese Academy of In­ter­na­tional Trade and Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion, said he doesn’t be­lieve China will turn to pro­tec­tion­ism.

“It is not only China which ben­e­fits from its pol­icy of open­ing up — open­ing up drives re­form. The more open China is, the more its devel­op­ment will ben­e­fit,” he said. “It is also a fa­vor­able sit­u­a­tion for the rest of the world.”

A ma­jor rea­son for US com­pa­nies feel­ing “less wel­come” is that China is im­prov­ing its in­sti­tu­tions con­cern­ing for­eign in­vest­ment, lead­ing to higher and stricter stan­dards, Li said.

Con­tact the writ­ers at paulwelitzkin@ chi­nadai­

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