BEIJING (Sept. 4, 2014) — China is targeting foreign companies—including auto makers and suppliers—with opaque laws and rules, according to a group representing U.S. businesses there, contributing to a deteriorating environment for investment in the nation.
Sixty percent of respondents to a survey last month by the American Chamber of Commerce in China said they feel foreign business is less welcome in the country than before, the business group said Sept. 2 in Beijing. That's up from 41 percent in a late-2013 survey. Forty-nine percent said foreign companies are being singled out in recent pricing or anti-corruption campaigns.
U.S. companies are joining Europeans in flagging increased concern that local authorities involved in an antitrust crackdown are discriminating against non-Chinese corporations. The campaign threatens to exacerbate a decline in foreign direct investment in the world's second-largest economy.
American Chamber members say they have “growing perceptions that multinational companies are under selective and subjective enforcement by Chinese government agencies,” Greg Gilligan, the group's chairman, said in a report. Laws and rules “lack transparency and are at times only vaguely related to the particular case.”
Dozens of foreign companies are being targeted in probes, with regulators opening an anti-monopoly investigation into Microsoft Corp. in July and state media accusing Apple Inc. of using its iPhone to steal state secrets.
The survey released Sept. 2 was conducted from Aug. 22 to Aug. 28 with 164 respondents, while the previous one had 365 responses in November and December, according to the chamber.