Foreign Executives Say China Presents Unique Demands

By Yoko Kubota Features Dow Jones Newswires

Foreign businesses in China, facing a new set of policies aimed at developing national high-tech industries through huge subsidies, need to grasp which activities Beijing could perceive as a threat, executives said.

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The " Made in China 2025" initiative seeks to boost the country's competitive position in industries including robotics and computer chips. The government would offer billions of dollars in subsidies and support in acquiring foreign competitors, among other measures.

The move has triggered concerns among foreign business groups in China, which say they would face unfair trade practices and more regulations.

To smoothly operate in China, foreign businesses need to understand what China's concerns are and how they may fit into that picture, said Caroline Pan, Honeywell International's vice president for high-growth regions. "You have to understand whether you are posing a potential threat or creating a concern," she said at The Wall Street Journal CEO Council in Tokyo.

China's nationalistic, high-tech industrial plan comes as U.S. President Donald Trump, who during his campaign criticized China as killing American jobs through its trade practices, calls to revive manufacturing at home.

Instead, governments may want to focus on supporting high-tech industries so they can stay competitive in China, said James McGregor, APCO Worldwide's Greater China chairman. "Let's protect the industries of the future. Let's protect artificial intelligence," he said.

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Foreign companies could also expand business by working with China's global ambitions, Ms. Pan said. Honeywell is one of the companies planning to take part in Beijing's "One Belt, One Road" project in which China is aiming to expand infrastructure that links it to Central Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe.

Write to Yoko Kubota at yoko.kubota@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

May 16, 2017 05:12 ET (09:12 GMT)