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China says criticism of its foreign investment environment is biased

Criticism of Beijing’s foreign investment environment is biased, China’s Commerce Ministry said on Tuesday.

Some companies abroad have claimed that it is now more difficult for overseas firms to invest in China than it is for Chinese firms to invest overseas.

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“Why are there complaints? Because foreign companies in China that rely on low costs and preferential treatment are now struggling,” Shen Danyang, a ministry spokesman, told reporters.

“Companies that rely on preferential policies to make easy money feel the environment has worsened. But for companies with real foresight, real competitiveness, they will feel that the investment environment has improved.”

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China’s foreign investment environment was not deteriorating, Shen said.

The outlook for trade in China remained tough and the government was not “blindly optimistic”, he added.

Beijing, while asking in public for more openness and steps to counter protectionism, is still giving Western investors only very limited access to the Chinese market, a European official said after China hosted the G20 leaders’ summit in Hangzhou earlier in September.

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A big concern for foreign investors in China is what they see as the increasing difficulty of doing business on the mainland, driven by concerns that new laws and policies are seeking to effectively shut out foreigners or make life very hard for them.