Most US firms feel 'targeted' by China: survey
Most US firms in China feel "targeted" by authorities, a survey said Wednesday, as the government embarks on a series of high-profile investigations into foreign businesses.
An American Chamber of Commerce survey found 57 percent of respondents believed foreign firms are being singled out in China's pricing, anti-monopoly and anti-corruption campaigns under President Xi Jinping.
Of those who said foreign firms were being targeted, 65 percent said they fear such campaigns will have a negative impact on them.
The results were part of the 17th annual business climate survey by the American Chamber of Commerce in the People's Republic of China (AmCham China), which had responses from 477 of the organisation's 1,012 company members.
"All of us are concerned, because we're on the sidelines for the most part watching and monitoring the campaigns by Xi Jinping and the leadership," AmCham China chairman James Zimmerman said at a news conference announcing the results.
"We don't know if it's going to slow down, or who is going to be targeted next," he said. "All we can do is set an example and do the right thing -- exercise zero tolerance when it comes to these issues, put in place compliance programmes and cooperate with the government when these things come up."
Nearly half of US firms in China -- 47 percent -- say they feel "less welcome" in the country than before, up from 44 percent last year.
The survey's release comes after Chinese authorities stepped up scrutiny of foreign firms, launching sweeping investigations into alleged malpractice in sectors ranging from pharmaceuticals to baby formula over the past two years.
This week US mobile chip titan Qualcomm said it will modify its business practices in China and pay 6.088 billion yuan (around $975 million) to end a long-running antitrust probe in the country, in perhaps the biggest fine ever levied by Beijing in such a case.
Other businesses such as Apple and Starbucks have sometimes received unfavourable coverage in state media over issues regarding service and pricing.
The moves have prompted fears from investors that overseas companies are being especially targeted. China maintains that its anti-monopoly law does not discriminate between domestic and foreign firms.
The AmCham survey highlighted a number of other areas of growing concern for US companies doing business in China, including the country's choking air pollution, its slowing growth and the ruling party's ever-tighter grip on the Internet.