Rules Darken Prospect Of Sound Research In China, Surveyors Say

Businesses trying to boost their activity in China could be hamstrung by new restrictions on market research by foreign companies. The Chinese insist the curbs on testing their market are designed to prevent surveys "harmful to State security and the public interest." The restrictions also affect domestic agencies employed by overseas companies. Foreign businesses fear the new rules will mean huge amounts of red tape and the risk that research results will drift into the hands of rival Chinese companies. Duncan Falzon, associate director of the British Market Research Bureau, which is working with a local company to survey 50,000 Chinese in 20 cities, says: "Even collection of data about monthly incomes -- a key ingredient of much research -- could be banned." But Xiong Zhennan, a senior official of the Chinese Statistics Bureau, says: "It's up to our foreign friends to obey our rules. We are not shutting them out of business."

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