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