Chinese premier promises to play nice with others

September 10, 2014 11:20 AM
Keqiang pledges to open China up to outside investments

 Premier Li Keqiang pledged to open China more to outside investment and encourage innovation, seeking to counter concerns of a chill after a spate of antitrust probes targeted foreign companies.

The government will attract more imports, punish intellectual-property violators and treat foreign and domestic companies equally, Li said yesterday at the World Economic Forum in Tianjin, an event attended by executives from companies including Qualcomm Inc. and Marriott International Inc.

With the remarks, Li expanded on Sept. 9 comments in which he said foreign companies have only been the target of 10 percent of Chinese anti-monopoly probes. American and European business groups have issued reports in recent days expressing concern that foreign firms have faced the brunt of antitrust scrutiny. The American Chamber of Commerce in China called China’s antitrust enforcement “selective and subjective.”

“We will keep our policies on foreign capital stable and improve and standardize the business environment to attract more foreign businesses and investment and draw upon and adopt the advanced technologies, mature managerial expertise and fine cultural achievements of other countries,” Li said.

Qualcomm, a strategic partner for the forum, is the target of a National Development and Reform Commission antitrust probe over its licensing business. Speaking at a forum panel yesterday, Chairman Paul Jacobs said the company sees opportunities for growth despite the probe.

Start Businesses

In his speech and a subsequent question-and-answer session, Li said he wants millions of Chinese to start small businesses, adding that the government has cut taxes by 250 billion yuan ($41 billion).

Li reiterated that China’s economy won’t have a hard landing and can achieve its main economic targets this year even as downward pressure on growth increases. Expansion of slightly above or below 7.5 percent, the government’s target, is reasonable, Li said.

He also reiterated leaders’ commitment to pushing ahead interest-rate and exchange-rate liberalization and said China will accelerate the development of a deposit-insurance system.

His comments came at a time when the government’s growth target of about 7.5 percent in 2014 has been threatened by a slowdown in industrial production and investment growth, a slumping property market, and a pullback in manufacturing.

Li also pledged to press forward with efforts to clean up the environment after years of tolerating smog as the cost of economic growth. He said China’s carbon intensity was cut by 5 percent in the first half.

“There is no turning back in China’s commitment to a sound ecosystem,” Li said.

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