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US must play by FDI rules

By Mei Xinyu | China Daily | Updated: 2013-07-24 07:22

In 2008, Chinese information and communications technology solutions provider Huawei partnered with US asset management company Bain Capital to acquire US-based digital electronics manufacturer 3Com. But the deal fell through, again, because of US national security concerns.

In 2010, Huawei was stopped from purchasing the mobile wireless network division of Motorola. And in 2011, it had to pull out of a deal to acquire bankrupt US server company 3Leaf Systems on the recommendation of the inter-agency committee.

Not content with blocking Chinese investments in the US, some American politicians have even criticized Chinese companies' forays into other countries. Back in the 1990s when Hutchison Whampoa acquired control of two ports on the Panama Canal, some US politicians said giving exclusive rights to the company to run the ports could provide cover for China's spying network.

When PetroChina launched its initial public offering road show in New York a few years ago, some people started a disinvestment campaign against the company and even lobbied fund managers to avoid its shares because its parent company had business in "genocide-wracked" Sudan.

The US' political censorship in the name of national security concerns is the major stumbling block for Chinese investors in the US. Of course, the US has also paid the price for its actions by losing huge amounts of investment inflows, which could have created many jobs and earned the government handsome tax revenues.

With the unemployment rate still high, the Barack Obama administration is keen on attracting foreign investment to stimulate the labor market. And SelectUSA, which highlights the advantages of the US as an investment destination, lists emerging countries like China as the key targets. Therefore, the two countries would gain immensely if they agreed on a BIT and Washington played by the rules in clearing Chinese investments in the US.

The author is a researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, affiliated to the Ministry of Commerce.

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