Flags of China, the United States and the Communist Party of China are displayed at a flag shop at the Yiwu Wholesale Market in Yiwu, Zhejiang province, China, 10 May 2019.
Aly Song | Reuters
The communication “seeks to create a good environment for economic and trade cooperation between the two countries, especially to stabilize business expectations,” Wang said in Mandarin at a news conference translated by CNBC.
He did not mention U.S. technological restrictions, but said the sanctions brought business uncertainty and “drastically increased” compliance costs.
Over the past two years, the Biden administration has imposed export controls that limit the ability of Chinese companies to buy advanced technologies such as advanced semiconductors from U.S. businesses. Washington said it was a way to cut off China’s military access to advanced technology while maintaining areas of cooperation.
“We always believe that the common interests of China and the United States in economy and trade are far greater than their differences,” Wang said.
Other foreign companies in the U.S. and China have long complained of difficulties doing business in the Asian country, such as unequal treatment of foreign companies compared to domestic players. Recently, international companies said Beijing’s vague rules on transferring data out of the country made operations difficult.
In the fall, China’s Cyberspace Administration (CAC) released new draft rules that said it would not need government oversight of data exports unless regulators stipulate it is “essential.” The move was hailed as an improvement for foreign business, but no official policy has yet followed.
When asked for an update on the data rules on Friday, Wang said only that “the main ministry is stepping up its efforts to release them.”
He said China is acting on a 24-point plan unveiled last summer to support foreign businesses in the country – with implementation or progress on “more than 60%” of the measures. Wang also said the ministry has established regular channels for foreign businesses to exchange opinions.
When Raimondo visited China last year, he called for more action to improve predictability for US businesses in China. Referring to the 24-point plan, he said: “Any one of these can be invoked for action.”
China’s economic growth has slowed to 5.2% growth in 2023 from the double-digit pace of previous decades. Growth is expected to slow further this year.
Wang told reporters on Friday that the international trade situation would be “more complicated and difficult” this year, pointing to factors such as rising geopolitical tensions.
Foreign direct investment fell 8% to 1.13 trillion yuan ($160 billion) in 2023, the lowest level in three years, according to data from the Ministry of Commerce. It is not clear how much the US has invested in China, but France and the UK have seen the biggest increases in such investment over the past year.
China is trying to strengthen foreign investment in the country.
At the World Economic Forum’s annual conference in Davos, Switzerland earlier this month, Chinese Premier Li Qiang gave a speech that portrayed China as an opportunity rather than a risk.
“Davos is full of CEOs whose intellectual property stories have been stolen, contracts outright changed, arbitrary legal judgments in favor of local competitors and more,” Eurasia Group founder and president Ian Bremmer said in a note on Monday.
“But I’ve also been impressed by the breadth of CEOs across various sectors (financials, healthcare, insurance, manufacturing, technology, luxury goods, transition energy, etc.) who have only told stories about increased access in recent months. , but also the new terms of business, licenses and partnerships they are legitimately interested in,” Bremmer said.
He said he plans to travel to China more this year than last year because “almost every Fortune 500 CEO” he met there has a business in China.
“Even with 2-3% growth, the shift in political momentum from the world’s second largest economy with its large industrial infrastructure and massive consumer base should not be overlooked.”