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China to US: Foreign firms enjoy equal treatment

by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) May 5, 2011
China insisted Thursday that foreign companies receive the same treatment as domestic firms, after US Commerce Secretary Gary Locke hit out at what he said was a worsening business climate in the country.

Locke, the nominee to be the next ambassador to Beijing, said Wednesday the US government and companies had "real frustrations" that would be raised during high-level talks between the world's two largest economies next week.

But Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu defended Beijing's policies on foreign investment, saying: "We uphold a win-win strategy of opening up the Chinese market."

"Legally registered foreign enterprises enjoy the same treatment as Chinese enterprises. In innovation and government procurement, we will treat these foreign enterprises the same," she said.

"China's market is open but there's also fierce competition. Foreign enterprises should rely on their own strength for success in China and enjoy the opportunities and fruits brought by China's reform and opening up."

Locke said while Washington imposed few curbs on Chinese investment, US firms operating in China were "frequently shut out of entire industries or "forced to give up proprietary information" in order to do business there.

"This imbalance of opportunity is a major barrier to continued improvement of the United States and China's commercial relationship," Locke said at the launch of a think-tank report that supported further Chinese investment.

"And it is part of a broader trend of China recently narrowing its commercial environment after a long and fruitful period of opening."

Jiang said that while it was "normal" for disputes to crop up between the trading partners, she hoped the two countries could address such issues "in a constructive manner on the basis of equal consultation".

The United States and China will hold their annual Strategic and Economic Dialogue on Monday and Tuesday, with the US side led by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

"China-US relations are important. We expect the new US ambassador to China will play an active role in promoting bilateral cooperation across the board," Jiang said.

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