China foreign investment law: Bill aims to ease global concerns

China bans forced technology transfers

China, meanwhile, showed its consideration for the United States at the National People's Congress, with Premier Li Keqiang emphasizing in his speech on the first day that Beijing will proceed with its "reform and opening-up" policy.

The speed at which this process was concluded is clearly a response to Beijing's ongoing trade dispute with Washington, Katja Drinhausen, a researcher at the Berlin-based Mercator Institute for China Studies, told DW. China's growing economy has become a huge market for top United States companies like General Motors, Boeing and Apple. The two sides slapped tariffs on exports worth hundreds of billions of dollars past year. The tit-for-tat tariffs and rising protectionist tendencies have hurt business sentiment worldwide and stoked uncertainty.

Top trade officials from America and China are holding talks to negotiate a comprehensive trade deal.

Amid mounting fears that foreign media would report news critical of China's one-party political system, the country's authorities have stepped up efforts to crack down on internet freedom around the time of the parliamentary session.

The Chinese government will also strengthen the protection of intellectual property rights, particularly for technology firms that will invest in China.

The second plenary session of the second session of the 13th National People's Congress (NPC) was held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, where Li Zhanshu, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPCSC), delivered a report on the work of the NPCSC, and Wang Chen, vice chairman of the NPCSC, delivered a speech about the explanation of the draft Foreign Investment Law, March 8, 2019.

But Western observers remain skeptical.

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No hearings on either of the bills are scheduled, and McDaniel said that "of course" the legislation wouldn't pass "as is". He says if anything moves forward, he would focus on tax credits and strip out the other elements.

Both the European Union and American trade chambers had urged China to consider having a single Company Law to govern both foreign and domestic enterprises, as is common in many countries.

Shares on Chinese stock exchanges climbed after the government reaffirmed its commitment to boosting growth. "China has a good track record of changing low-level regulations to protect domestic industries", he added. He added that "the law offers a more broad-based retaliation".

The law includes provisions on national security, which some firms worry could be used as cover to shut global businesses out of certain projects or to confiscate investments altogether. The chamber noted that the clause gives China power to take "unilateral action against trading and investment partners based on a principle of perceived negative reciprocity".

Aside from paving the way for better service to foreign investors, the law also includes a negative list that provides businessmen with a detailed account of which activities or industries overseas businesses are not allowed to take part in.

By the end of 2018, about 960,000 foreign-invested enterprises had been set up in China, with the accumulated foreign direct investment exceeding 2.1 trillion USA dollars.

According to official state news agency Xinhua, the new Foreign Investment Law will create a "stable, transparent and predictable market environment for fair competition".

"What the security audit for foreign investment will look like and what this means in practice for foreign companies is not yet clear", said MERICS expert Drinhausen.

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