On Friday, February 12, 2021, tourists walk on the Bund in Shanghai, China.
Seven Gods | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Beijing-Even if new regulations and the pandemic make international business more difficult, foreign companies are still trying to seize profitable opportunities in China.
Because these companies Watch the blow to domestic tech giantsThe Chinese government continues to push the world’s second largest economy to further open up to overseas capital.
In recent weeks, local authorities in Beijing and Shenzhen have followed Hainan-an entire island province that is becoming a free trade zone-and announced the new benefits of special development zones for foreign investment. Similar business-friendly policies have been introduced in the past, but the results have been mixed.
“The main difference is that it is more targeted than before,” said Adam Dunnett, secretary-general of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China.
“Now you really have to show that you have got what China wants, otherwise China does not consider its own interests and needs as its competitors,” he said.
The Chinese authorities launched the latest five-year development plan this year.It contains The ambitious goal of technological progress Faced with rising pressure from the United States, Beijing also wants Build the economy’s dependence on domestic consumption rather than exports.
“In our opinion, some companies will be driven out of the market,” Dunnett said. “They will fight as much as possible. Others can provide something, and they are willing to provide it, because the market is there, and the market is good, and they will stick to it as much as possible. There are others who frankly say that they are not located They are regarded as sensitive areas, and they will continue to do well on their own, with relatively little interference.”
When talking about the overall business environment, the leaders of American and European business interest groups in China said Members in the Trump era call for more equal opportunities in the country without significant progressA document issued by the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China on Thursday specifically pointed out that government procurement policies still benefit local companies rather than foreign companies.
Beijing’s regulatory crackdown does not help emotions. In July, the Chinese authorities ordered a ride-hailing app Didi arrive Suspend new user registration A few days later New York IPO, And told the tutoring company to cut business hours.Company from Tal Education arrive Tencent We have seen the stock price plummet.
Greg Gilligan, chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in Beijing, said: “Recently, we have seen some blows to the entire industry, and the methods of blows are not completely understandable or predictable.” “Of course, companies need stability and predictability. sex.”
Gilligan said another pressing challenge facing companies is obtaining visas for executives, their spouses and children. “These restrictive travel policies are directly affecting foreign investment decisions in a negative way.”
China’s National Economic Planning Agency acknowledged this specific drag on investment at a press conference this month on encouraging foreign direct investment. There is no mention of support for the relocation of employees, but a general statement on the relaxation of foreign investment restrictions.
The country has quickly grown into the second largest economy in the world Heavy reliance on foreign investmentHowever, for many years, overseas companies have complained about the need to transfer know-how to the country in order to do business there. Chinese authorities also prohibit foreign companies from operating in sensitive industries or force joint ventures with local companies.
In recent years, the Chinese government has removed many such restrictions, most Especially in the financial sector And the automotive industry.
Joerg Wuttke, president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, said in a conference call with reporters that the Chinese authorities have welcomed more European manufacturing in the past two years.
“They don’t mind having [a] Foreigners supply it,” he said, “as long as they are in the Great Wall of China. “
Local authorities are also deregulating in a targeted manner.
Liu Meiying, deputy director of the “two districts”, said at a forum held in Beijing that the “two districts” policy introduced in the capital Beijing last year designated the removal of local restrictions on wholly foreign-owned aviation maintenance businesses. In early September, China and Globalization Think Tank Center.
She added that the “two districts” halved the assets required by the parent company of a new foreign company to 200 million U.S. dollars, making it the only region in the country that allows foreign investment in audio and video production.
Also in early September, the central government announced that the Qianhai Free Trade Zone connecting Shenzhen and Hong Kong would expand eightfold to 120.56 square kilometers (46.5 square miles). As mainland China strengthens its control over Hong Kong, the global financial center, this is already the time when the financial center where UBS and HSBC are located is expanding.
Klaus Zenkel, general manager of Imedco Technology (Shenzhen) and vice president of the EU Chamber of Commerce South China Branch, said he is optimistic about Qianhai’s plans, such as granting a high degree of administrative autonomy to the region.
The implementation status of these plans is currently uncertain. Chen Jie, general manager of Hong Kong, said that for the southern island province of Hainan, the authorities have accelerated the announcement of tax breaks and other business-friendly policies this year. These changes are not enough for foreign companies to immediately appear based on the developer Keyestone Group.
Chen pointed out that in addition to consumer brands, most companies will first focus on other companies already operating on the island under the new policy. The company is building a Hello Kitty theme park in Hainan, which will open in 2024.
Regardless of government politics or policies, China’s growing middle class and huge scale still attract foreign companies. Official data show that in the first eight months of this year, non-financial foreign direct investment in China increased by 27.8% year-on-year in US dollars to reach US$113.78 billion.
“The market opportunity is very attractive,” said Matt Marguiles, vice president of the US-China Business Council for China. “Most companies are either staying in place or developing. This will vary from company to company.”
But Marguiles said that compliance is a growing problem because New Chinese laws, such as the law on the protection of personal data.
“There are some concerns about data security, Some laws in Europe, Some laws in China, so you need to be careful about what data you can use,” said Zenkel of the European Chamber of Commerce. As in the supply chain, There are “restrictions that both parties need to comply with.”