Foreign investment welcome, Xi tells business leaders

Updated: 2011-06-05 07:55

By Fu Jing (China Daily)

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Foreign investment welcome, Xi tells business leaders
Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping (R, Front) meets with Italian Economy and Finance Minister Giulio Tremonti (second from left)and Economic Development Minister Paolo Romani (first from left) in Milan, Italy, June 3, 2011. [Photo/Xinhua]

MILAN, Italy - Visiting Vice-President Xi Jinping said China still welcomes foreign investment and offers "equal treatment" to domestic and overseas investors while redoubling its efforts to expand domestic consumption, boost imports and promote business in other countries.

Xi assured the Italian and Chinese business leaders at a gala banquet on Friday night that China's acceleration to transform its mode of economic development increases the level and quality of opportunities for foreign investment.

He said that 10 years after its entry into the World Trade Organization, China recently phased out national preferential policies (in land use, taxation, loans) formerly enjoyed by foreign investors, who now receive the same treatment as their Chinese counterparts.

Xi said this move, in line with the spirit of the WTO and market economy, does not mean that China does not welcome overseas investment. Instead, it sticks to the strategy of expanding domestic demand. "This will provide more room for foreign commodities in the Chinese market," he told the 300-plus businesspeople from the two countries.

According to Xi, who was making an official visit to Italy, China will encourage overseas capital to participate more in such areas as modern agriculture, high-tech and new technologies, advanced manufacturing, energy-efficient and environmentally friendly production, new energy and modern services.

Overseas investments are encouraged, especially in China's vast central and western regions and in mergers with and reorganization of Chinese enterprises through joint stock holding, he said.

He also vowed to enhance enforcement of intellectual property rights laws to protect the legal interests of overseas-funded enterprises. "China will firmly adhere to the mutually beneficial and win-win strategy of opening up," he said.

Xi's remarks came on the heels of China and Italy signing 16 contracts worth $3.3 billion on Friday afternoon.

Yang Zhihong, CEO of PetroChina Goodpec, said the petrochemical company has signed a $300 million contract to purchase natural-gas filling station equipment from the Italian company SAFE.

"We decided to purchase the equipment because the company can offer us high-end technical assistance," said Yang, one of the more than 150 Chinese business leaders at the banquet.

While Italy is a leading exporter of high-tech products to China, some European countries and the US have been hesitant to follow suit.

"We sincerely hope that the EU can more actively and openly undertake high-tech cooperation and investment with China," said Xi, expressing his wish that the two can jointly oppose trade and investment protectionism.

Xi said that China, as the largest developing country in the world, has a deep connection of economic interests with the EU.

"In the face of the international financial crisis and European sovereign debt crisis, China and Europe help and support each other, reflecting the high level of the bilateral relationship," he said. Xi recalled that the total volume of bilateral trade last year between China and EU was about $480 billion. More than 1. 5 million Chinese tourists went to Europe last year, while over 3 million European tourists visited China.

Xinhua contributed to this story.


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