Could China's Foreign Investment Law Appease Trump?

China-US trade war: New Chinese law seeks to address concerns

China has passed a new foreign investment law in a move widely seen as an effort to facilitate USA trade talks.

The state must protect "copyrights", and ensure that foreign companies "at a disadvantage", but on an equal footing can have a part in the competition, it said in a previously published explanation of the legal text. After the meeting closes today, new amendments may be added to the foreign investment law, as long as they do not contradict "fundamental principles" of the law.

The new law will take effect on 1 January 2020.

A draft was presented to the parliament last week but the latest revisions have not been made public since then.

The new law was attempting to help level the rulebook between domestic firms and foreign investors in the country.

China is making changes to strengthen foreign investment regulations, said Hans Hendrischke, a professor of Chinese business and management at the University of Sydney Business School.

In a survey conducted in November and December for the American Chamber of Commerce in China, a third of companies who responded said they were limiting their investments in China because of concerns about intellectual property theft and forced tech transfers.

A lot of USA lobbying interests is trying to urge Trump not to rush having a "vague deal" with China, knowing it fails to "resolve fundamental complaints" about its "unfair competitive practices".

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Some law experts and business consultants have expressed scepticism about how effective the law will be in protecting foreign firms from compelled technology transfers, given a lack of rule of law in China.

"The vague language leaves much room for interpretation and makes compliance hard", he added. "It will be New to China", he said at an event in the White house. But they face pressure, including requirements in industries such as auto manufacturing and pharmaceuticals to work through state-owned partners, which requires them to provide technology to companies the ruling Communist Party hopes will become their competitors.

"What prosecutor is going to bring a case against a Communist Party official?" one person in the US business community asked.

In a statement released after the law's approval, the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China said that Article 40 in the law "allows for political issues to influence investor-state relations". The new foreign investment law will replace the three older statues that govern foreign invested entities and serve as the "unified law" for foreign investments in China.

But it added that it was concerned that "such an important and potentially far-reaching piece of legislation will be enacted without extensive consultation and input from industry stakeholders".

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang leaves next to NPC spokesperson Zhang Yesui at the end of a news conference following the closing session of the National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China March 15, 2019.

China's number two leader yesterday denied Beijing tells its companies to spy overseas, refuting United States warnings that Chinese technology suppliers might be a security risk. "I believe that this is also the expectation of the world", Li said.

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