As Trump Amps Up Trade War, China Plays Nice With Foreign Investors
Long accused of protectionist tactics that make it a difficult place for foreign firms to operate, China is trying to reverse that narrative amid an escalating trade war with the United States, green-lighting huge investments and portraying itself as a champion of openness.
But critics argue that despite its attempt to claim the moral high ground as U.S. President Donald Trump threatens to apply more tariffs on Chinese imports, Beijing’s recent moves to make it easier for foreign businesses to set up operations also effectively acknowledges that it has had discriminatory market barriers.
This week, China agreed to a $10 billion petrochemicals project by Germany’s BASF that will be the first such plant in China that is wholly foreign-owned, not a joint venture.
It also approved a huge new wholly-owned Shanghai factory for U.S. electric car maker Tesla Inc, and a $2.3 billion joint venture organic light-emitting diode (OLED) plant to be built by South Korea’s LG Display Co Ltd.
Responding to the Trump administration’s latest plan to slap 10 percent tariffs on an extra $200 billion worth of Chinese imports, Assistant Commerce Minister Li Chenggang said on Wednesday that China would not close itself to U.S. business.
“I want to stress that the Chinese government’s attitude to support business cooperation between the two countries will not change, its determination to push forward reforms and improve the business environment will not change, and its stance of opposing unilateralism and supporting multilateralism will not change,” Li said at a business forum in Beijing on Wednesday.
“They go low, we go high,” he said, in an apparent jab at Trump as he borrowed a phrase used by former U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama in the 2016 U.S. election campaign.
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