China Pushes for Policies Favoring Foreign Investment

Surveys by the American and European chambers of commerce in recent months showed overseas companies are increasingly unhappy with the way they are treated in China.

Beijing has urged officials to implement policies aimed at encouraging foreign investment, amid rising complaints from overseas companies that China's business environment is worsening.

The statement issued by the State Council, or cabinet, on August 19 was an apparent response to criticism from foreign governments and companies over perceived unfair policies and market restrictions.

"Relevant departments must seriously implement (the policies) ... and the State Council will carry out regular checks into the enforcement in key areas," the statement said.

The State Council in April issued a series of favorable measures for foreign companies including cheaper land prices and tax breaks.

Overseas firms were also encouraged to take stakes or acquire Chinese companies, buy domestic stocks and issue yuan-denominated bonds and shares as a way to expand their financing channels.

The statement urged relevant ministries including the National Development and Reform Commission, China's top economic planning agency, and the Ministry of Commerce to implement the measures.

The statement came after officials from German firms BASF and Siemens last month joined the chorus of complaint over China's business climate -- during a meeting attended by China's Premier Wen Jiabao and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Merkel herself prodded China on the issue, saying she hoped that "German enterprises can enjoy the same access to the Chinese market" as Chinese firms do in her country.

Surveys by the American and European chambers of commerce in recent months showed overseas companies are increasingly unhappy with the way they are treated in China.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010

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