A bird's-eye view of the central business district in Beijing. (Photo: VCG)
Revised negative list underway, with all other foreign investment curbs to go
China will remove all access restrictions on foreign investment in areas outside the negative list by the end of this year, as part of the country's overall effort to further open up the economy and pursue high-quality development, the nation's top economic regulator said on Monday.
Meng Wei, spokeswoman for the National Development and Reform Commission, said China will continue to widen market access for foreign investment, and the nation is set to soon release the revised negative list on market access of foreign investment and the catalog of encouraged foreign investment industries.
"China welcomes foreign businesses to invest and develop in China. And we will continue to unswervingly expand opening up, create a more open and business-friendly environment and protect the legitimate rights and interests of foreign investment," Meng said at a news conference in Beijing.
"Our negative lists will only be shortened further," Meng added. "By the end of this year, China will lift all barriers to foreign investment not included on the negative list. And China will encourage more foreign investment in more fields, especially for the central and western regions."
A negative list indicates areas where investment is prohibited, while all other areas are presumed to be open.
Li Gang, director of the academic committee at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, said as the Chinese economy is transitioning from the phase of rapid growth to a stage of high-quality development, China needs to further expand opening up and increase openness with its foreign investment rules.
"In the era of economic globalization, shutting our door to the outside world would not help China," Li said.
"In fact, many of our sectors are still on the low to medium tier compared with other leading countries. Thus we need to foster a better business environment and widen market access to attract more foreign investment, which will help fuel innovation, and improve industrial upgrading and high-quality economic development in China."
China's foreign direct investment grew 6.8 percent year-on-year to 369.06 billion yuan ($53.3 billion) in the first five months of this year, according to the Ministry of Commerce. From January to May, manufacturing FDI in China reached 112.89 billion yuan, up by 12.4 percent year-on-year.
According to the World Investment Report 2019 published by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, China was ranked as the world's second-largest FDI recipient after the United States, accounting for more than 10 percent of total global FDI.
China's FDI rose 4 percent year-on-year to $139 billion in 2018 from $134 billion in 2017, the report said.
"China has made big strides in fostering a better business environment," said Sheila Xu, associate director of global business development at TMF Group, a leading global professional services firm.
"To pursue high-quality economic development, China needs to ease the market restrictions on foreign investment. I believe the Chinese government will continue to offer foreign capital preferential policies equivalent to those benefiting domestic players."
The country ranked 46th out of 190 economies in the World Bank's newly released ease of doing business rankings for 2018, compared with 78th place in 2017.