CHINADAILY：Foreign capital to spur upgrading
The State Council has renewed its pledge to further open up the Chinese market and level the business playing field, with measures to give domestic and foreign players equal access to the banking and auto sectors and the capital market.
Experts said more market access to foreign capital will spur the vitality of domestic companies through greater market competition, which could provide better services and products to consumers.
The Cabinet said in a statement following Wednesday's executive meeting that the government will continue to cut red tape and improve services to foster a more welcoming business environment for foreign investment.
More sectors will be open to foreign investment, and restrictions on the scope of business of foreign-invested banks, securities companies and fund management firms already established in China will be lifted across the board, the statement said.
It also called for better foreign investment policies in the auto industry, with steps to offer equal market access for domestic and foreign-invested new energy vehicles made in China.
Premier Li Keqiang said at the meeting that foreign capital has played a unique and important role in China's economic growth, and the country must always attach great importance to the use of foreign capital to promote high-quality development and modernization.
Enabling fair competition between domestic and foreign businesses will offer consumers more choice and spur domestic businesses to improve their competitiveness and level of services, he said, adding that measures to attract foreign investment must be scaled up.
Mei Xinyu, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, said the Chinese economy is entering an era in which opening-up can pave the way for further reforms.
"Most of the sectors in China have been developed enough to no longer require a high degree of protection," he said. "Rather, they require more pressure from competition to ensure their vitality."
Mei said China's opening-up has covered measures including widened market access and the lifting of restrictions on equity caps, and the country has shared opportunities arising from its economic growth with its partners, helping them to better adapt to its market and its rules.
At the meeting, the State Council also came up with measures to make investment easier and ensure equal protection of the legitimate interests of foreign investors.
It pledged support to foreign-invested companies in independently choosing their model of borrowing from foreign lenders, saying foreign businesses will be encouraged to use their capital for equity investment in China.
Preliminary site selection and land use reviews for foreign-invested projects will be consolidated, and the requirements for permission to plan projects and use land for construction will be combined, it added.
The Cabinet also vowed to ban the forced transfer of technology, including transfers through requirements that are disguised.
Trade secrets will be protected in accordance with the law, and there should be no restrictions in government procurement based on the type of ownership of suppliers, the nationality of investors, or the brands of products and services, it added.
Tu Xinquan, director of the China Institute for WTO Studies at the University of International Business and Economics, said the newly opened up sectors were of crucial importance to the national economy, and their opening up showed that the sectors are strong enough to withstand risks and challenges.
More opening-up could level the playing field and promote the upgrading of Chinese industries, he said.
"For foreign businesses, the opening up of the market is only part of their concern. They care more about regulatory measures and the business environment," he said, adding that measures rolled out at Wednesday's meeting would help dispel their concerns.
Tu said China, with its stable political and social environment, sound infrastructure and sizable domestic market, remained one of the economies with the strongest appeal to foreign investors.
In the first nine months of this year, 30,871 foreign-invested businesses were established in China, with the inflow of foreign capital exceeding 683.2 billion yuan ($96.5 billion), up 6.9 percent year-on-year, according to the Ministry of Commerce.