Chinese movie star Jackie Chan is interviewed at a panel discussion during the first session of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference on Monday in Beijing. Photo: VCG
China will broaden market entry for foreign investors and provide a fair competition environment for both domestic and overseas enterprises, the country's top economic planner vowed Tuesday.
The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) will amend certain restrictions on the so-called 'negative list' for foreign investment this year, and gradually expand the negative list in place in pilot free trade zones (FTZs) to the entire country, said Ning Jizhe, deputy head of the NDRC, at a press conference on the sidelines of the two sessions.
The negative list details business sectors in which foreign investment is subject to restrictions and prohibitions.
The updated negative list being implemented in FTZs, published by the State Council, China's cabinet, on June 16 last year, cut dozens of restrictive measures in aviation manufacturing, waterway transportation, banking services and education, representing an easing of foreign capital access in China.
"General manufacturing will be fully opened and the level of openness in the service sector substantially improved, while relaxing or canceling ownership limits in certain sectors," Ning said.
The country will expand foreign investment access to sectors like financial services, telecommunications, medical services, education, eldercare, and new-energy vehicles, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said in a government work report delivered at the opening session of the 13th National People's Congress on Monday.
Ning also stressed China will ensure that domestic and foreign firms compete on an equal footing by offering equal opportunities in the "Made in China 2025" strategy and projects involving science and technology, government procurement and standards setting.
"China will strictly protect the intellectual property rights and the legitimate interests of foreign firms by making new laws," he added.
Even with a more level playing field, some foreign investors say China's investment climate is changing and requires greater perseverance.
"Competition in China's market has become much fiercer and the investment environment is becoming better and fairer," Xia Xianliang, a research fellow at the National Academy of Economic Strategy under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Tuesday.
"No country in the world, including developed ones, has the same strengthen and determination to open their markets like China, and we hold a very welcoming attitude toward foreign investors to come and contribute," Xia said, noting differences between domestic and foreign players should be treated objectively.
China has made remarkable achievements in attracting foreign capital in the past decades thanks to the reform and opening-up policy, Ning said. The country ranked second in the world after the US in attracting foreign direct investment in 2017, registering $131 billion.
"The reform and opening-up policy is the very reason for China's robust growth over the past four decades, and will remain the key driving force to high-quality development in the future," Liu He, director of the General Office of the Central Leading Group for Financial and Economic Affairs, said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January.
Ma Yu, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation under the Ministry of Commerce, told the Global Times on Tuesday there is still much to be done to construct a world-class investment environment.
"Market access is the most essential," Ma noted.
Apart from wider market access and facilitated investment procedures, more favorable policies concerning capital transfer and land use will be given to foreign firms when they invest in the central, western and northeastern regions of China, Ning said.