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US moves against China firms criticized

By Zheng Yangpeng in Dalian, Liaoning | China Daily | Updated: 2013-09-13 07:24

But Francisco J. Sanchez, US undersecretary of commerce for international trade, a panelist in the Davos discussion in Dalian, dismissed the claim that the US is not open to Chinese investment.

He said that 98 percent of foreign countries' outbound direct investment into the US requires no government review, and the vast majority of investments that are reviewed are ultimately approved.

"This (review) is not unique to China. It applies to (companies) all over the world who hope to invest in or acquire technologies that we deem as related to national security," said Sanchez.

"I want to make it very clear that the United States welcomes Chinese investment," he said.

The two cases did obscure the overall robust picture of Chinese investment in the US. In 2012, the Chinese mainland's ODI in the US grew 123.5 percent to hit $4 billion. At that point, the US became the second-largest ODI destination after Hong Kong, according to a Chinese government report.

By the end of 2012, cumulative investment from the Chinese mainland in the US was $17 billion.

Ma Weihua, chairman of Wing Lung Bank and former chairman of China Merchants Bank, said most Chinese companies are not prepared to "go global", as shown in the high percentage of failures in ODI.

In 2010, more than 10 percent of Chinese outbound investments failed, one of the highest rates in the world. More than 20 percent had lost money, he said.

"Many Chinese companies do not have a clear strategy in terms of going abroad. Some just go abroad because they think they are big enough. And the low-price strategy they generally apply abroad could easily provoke local repulsion," Ma said.

Li, the banker, pointed out that Chinese executives abroad have very limited integration with local cultures: They tend to work and live in an isolated environment in foreign markets and seldom communicate with locals. They are particularly weak at language skills.

"Throughout my intensive travel experience in Africa, my personal feeling is that Chinese culture hardly resonates with these developing nations," he added.

Michael Andrew, global chairman of KPMG International, a global auditing corporation, said the firm's survey of Chinese clients showed that a few years ago, 86 percent of Chinese companies that had outbound investment were State-owned enterprises. Their investment was overwhelmingly concentrated in energy and infrastructure. But now more investors are targeting areas such as food, technology and services.

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