Tuesday

9th Aug 2022

China breaking promises to EU firms, report says

  • The plea for help from EU companies comes during a high-level visit by EU foreign relations chief Catherine Ashton to China. (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

Chinese leaders are routinely breaking their promises on opening up the internal market to EU companies, a new business report published during a high-level EU visit to the country has said.

The European Union Chamber of Commerce in China in its annual survey out Wednesday (1 September) listed a series of technical barriers to EU investment in the airline reservation, automotive, construction, insurance, oil refinery, research and innovation and telecommunications sectors.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

In one example, EU companies seeking a wholesale licence to sell petrol in China must first own a refinery and get an import licence. But another law forbids foreign firms from owning a majority stake in Chinese refineries, while in practice, Chinese bureaucracy has never issued an import licence to a foreign company.

In another example, Chinese state purchases of IT gives nakedly preferential treatment to products developed by native researchers.

As a result EU firms invested just €5.3 billion in the vast country last year, amounting to less than 3 percent of EU foreign investments, the study noted.

The paper took China's leaders to task for failing to live up to commitments in the World Trade Organisation. The business lobby's chief, Jacques de Boisseson, also gently criticised the authoritarian country's top economic official, Premier Wen Jiabao, who in April said foreign firms can compete on a level playing field with Chinese ones.

"I do believe the words of Premier Wen when he says that foreign investment is welcome," Mr de Boisseson told Reuters. "[But China] would probably be satisfied with a lower level of foreign investment and a higher share for Chinese companies."

The plea for help - which, among other things, called for "a more coherent approach" to China diplomacy from EU member states, whose policies it dubbed "fragmented and uncoordinated to the detriment of European business" - comes during a high-level visit by EU foreign relations chief Catherine Ashton to China.

Ms Ashton is not responsible for trade but did on Wednesday discuss a wide-ranging EU-China strategic partnership with the country's most senior foreign affairs official, Dai Bingguo, and will on Thursday meet Mr Wen.

"China expects the EU to treat it as an equal," Mr Dai told Ms Ashton, according to the Xinhua state news agency.

Ms Ashton so far on her trip has also visited EU pavilions, such as the Bulgaria and Romania stands, at the Shanghai "Expo 2010" fair and toured an ethnic Miao village in the country's Guizhou province. "I have seen the beauty of Beijing and the splendor of Shanghai, and I have the great opportunity to see this part of China," she told Xinhua.

The EU foreign affairs chief declined to go to the re-launch of Middle East peace talks taking place in Washington on Thursday in order to complete her China itinerary, attracting criticism from some quarters.

"If the EU wants to play an international role compatible with its political and economic weight, it must clearly understand its priorities!" Portuguese centre-right MEP Mario David said in a statement on Wednesday.

Opinion

Let Taiwan's democracy shine brighter

Dr Ming-Yen Tsai, head of the Taipei Representative Office in the EU and Belgium, responds to EUobserver op-ed on Taiwan by the Chinese ambassador to Belgium. "Taiwan is an 'island of resilience'. That will continue to be the case."

Opinion

Supporting Taiwan 'like carrying water in a sieve'

China's ambassador to Belgium, Cao Zhongming, says the US has been distorting, obscuring and hollowing out the 'one-China' principle and unscrupulously undermining China's core interests. This is sheer double standards and a shameful act of bad faith.

News in Brief

  1. Rhine river on the brink of closure for shipping
  2. Moldova sees 'prelude to war' with Russia-backed forces
  3. Taliban preventing Afghan evacuations to Germany
  4. Amnesty regrets 'distress' caused by Ukraine report
  5. Energy companies warn UK gas exports to EU are contaminated
  6. EU set for clash over rules on political adverts
  7. Three grain ships due to leave Ukraine on Friday
  8. EU on track to reach gas-storage November target

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  3. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  6. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting

Latest News

  1. Italy poised to elect far-right rulers
  2. UN chief demands access to nuclear plant after new attack
  3. Greek PM embroiled in spyware scandal
  4. How Ukraine made the case anew for an EU army
  5. 'We must take back institutions', Orban tells US conservatives
  6. Putin must lose Ukraine war, Nato chief says
  7. Let Taiwan's democracy shine brighter
  8. Droughts prompt calls to cut water use amid harvest fears

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us