World Economy

European Firms Say China Business More Difficult

European businesses say it has become harder to do  business in China over the past year.European businesses say it has become harder to do  business in China over the past year.

European companies complain they still face a tough business climate in China despite Beijing›s pledges of openness, with about half saying it has become tougher in the past year, according to a survey released on Wednesday.

The study comes as President Xi Jinping looks to portray the world›s number two as being at the forefront of the globalization cause just as the United States appears to be stepping back from the world stage, CNA reported.

Among the litany of complaints were the uncertain legal environment, higher cost of labor, regulatory headaches and the «Great Firewall» that censors much of the global internet.

«As its economy matures, the longstanding inefficiencies in China›s business environment are rendered all the more glaring,» according to the report by the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China.

Mats Harborn, the chamber›s president, echoed those concerns, telling journalists that «the regulatory environment is actually holding the economy back.»

New cybersecurity regulations make it more costly to jump the firewall, requiring businesses to sign up for expensive government-approved virtual private networks that allow users to circumvent filters and access the global internet.

Two-thirds of companies believe that censorship and blocking of certain sites has a negative impact on their business. This is the «great contradiction,» said Harborn.

«We have China which claims itself a leader in globalization, talking of the importance of integration, but the cybersecurity law is creating problems.»

The survey found 48% of European firms felt it had become «more difficult» to do business in the past 12 months. And a fifth say they have been victims of forced technology transfers, a practice denounced fiercely by Washington as it carries out a probe on the issue while threatening tariffs in retaliation.

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