China foreign investment law: Bill aims to ease global concerns

China agrees to foreign investment law pledges cooperation with US European firms

The law will go into effect on January 1, 2020. It will eliminate the requirement for foreign businesses to transfer proprietary technology to Chinese joint-venture partners and protect against "illegal government interference" - major irritants for Western firms and governments.

US President Donald Trump is demanding China to reduce the United States dollars 375 billion trade deficit, provide legal protection for intellectual property rights (IPR), technology transfer and more access to American goods to Chinese markets. China's growing economy has become a huge market for top U.S. companies like General Motors, Boeing and Apple. "The law is drafted in a pretty general way".

Foreign business groups say the legislation was rushed through with little attention paid to their views.

In October 2017, the Communist Party held its twice-a-decade congress, where it amended its constitution to enshrine Xi's political "thought" with his name in order to make his status comparable to Mao Zedong, founder of the People's Republic of China.

Li also made no mention of the "Made in China 2025" technology blueprint, under which China has been attempting to create global leaders in advanced technologies at the state's initiative - one of the causes that prompted the United States to wage a trade war. The two sides slapped tariffs on exports worth hundreds of billions of dollars past year.

Li, asked about scepticism over the law, said there was no reason for China not to want to open up to the world, as it was the country's basic policy.

China's parliament voted on Friday to approve a new foreign investment law.

The legislation aims to address long-running grievances from foreign businesses, but the U.S. and European chambers of commerce have voiced concerns that they were not given enough time to give their input.

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Parts of it aren't specific enough on issues such as intellectual property protection, despite a number of revisions to the first draft, according to Jacob Parker, vice president of the US-China Business Council.

Tim Stratford, chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China said, "the last minute efforts are appreciated".

"The vague language leaves much room for interpretation and makes compliance hard", he added.

"Enforcement will be the key metric for evaluating success, but the business community has collectively advocated for years for the Chinese government to impose criminal penalties for infringement, we need to recognise this positive progress to that end". These include subsidising of industry, limits on access for foreign companies and alleged theft of intellectual property.

The passing of the new foreign investment law came after Trump's administration tried to cool down the talk about the imminent trade deal.

The law includes provisions on national security, which some firms worry could be used as cover to shut worldwide businesses out of certain projects or to confiscate investments altogether.

"Its vague wording further adds to the legal uncertainty that the law creates for foreign companies", it said. William Liu, managing partner for Linklaters in China, commented "the increasing liberalisation of foreign investment into China will be a key component for the development of the Chinese economy to move up the value chain, to meet the needs of its growing middle class, and to boost exports".

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