Senior U.S. officials pressed China again on Tuesday to reduce barriers for foreign businesses, saying concerns had grown as the regulatory environment became more complex, and they also bought up concerns over a new law on foreign non-governmental groups.
Foreign business confidence has been affected by regulatory and protectionist worries, following a series of government investigations targeting foreign companies and China’s roll-out of a national security law limiting the use of overseas technology.
U.S. business groups have also complained about new Chinese regulations they say favour local firms and make it more difficult to operate in China, as well as other laws related to national security.
“Concerns about the business climate have grown in recent years, with foreign businesses confronting a more complex regulatory environment and questioning whether they are welcome in China,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew told Chinese and American businesses and officials.
“Our two governments have a responsibility to foster conditions that facilitate continued and increased investment, trade, and commercial cooperation,” Lew said, on the second day of high-level talks between the two countries in Beijing.
“This means enacting policies that encourage healthy competition, ensuring predictability and transparency in the policy-making and regulatory process, protecting intellectual property rights, and removing discriminatory investment barriers. These policies are vital as China seeks to build on its economic progress in recent decades.”
Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking at the same event, said that as the two economies become more intertwined in shared prosperity, they have more “skin in the game” to keep their economic relationship on an even keel.
Kerry expressed concern about China’s new law on foreign non-governmental organisations, which he said may have a negative impact on non-profit health care groups that want to do business in China.
The law, which was passed by China’s parliament in April despite months of criticism and lobbying by the West, brings NGOs under the Ministry of Public Security, giving police broad authority over their finances and work.