Survey: American Firms Feel Unwelcome in China

    19 February, 2015

    From VOA Learning English, this is the Economics Report.

    About 500 American companies operating in China say they are making a profit. But top-level officials with the companies say they increasingly feel unwelcome and targeted by the Chinese government.

    The American Chamber of Commerce in China released the results of a survey of its members earlier this week. Fifty-seven percent of top-level managers said they feel Chinese officials are concerned about investigating foreign companies. The survey said that 47 percent of the officials felt unwelcome doing business in the country. That was an increase from 44 percent in the group's report last year. However, most businesses asked -- 70 percent -- said they remain "profitable" or "very profitable."

    Survey: American Firms Feel Unwelcome in China
    FILE - Women walk past the logo for Microsoft in Beijing, China, July 31, 2014.

    James Zimmerman is chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China, also known as AmCham China.

    "People are making money. But there are always challenges. For the last 35 years there have been challenges. Anyone that says there was a time when there was no challenges or there was that golden era forgets that there has always been challenges here," Zimmerman said.

    In China, the investigation of foreign companies has become common since President Xi Jinping took power. Under his leadership, China has launched a campaign to improve food safety, and against official corruption. Chinese officials have examined the operations of Microsoft, Qualcomm, Audi, McDonald's and other foreign companies.

    James Zimmerman says he does not believe the government is targeting such companies on purpose.

    AmCham China represents more than 1,000 U.S. businesses. Its representatives often meet with U.S. and Chinese officials.

    Mr. Zimmerman has been working on China-related trade issues for more than 20 years. He says that he was personally involved in developing China's Anti-Monopoly Law.

    He says many of the cases against foreign companies were not raised first by the government.

    It can be difficult for private companies to operate in China's business environment. The companies have trouble competing against state-owned businesses. The country has experienced huge changes since it moved from a planned economy to one that is more market-driven. However, the state still has a strong influence in business.

    The study found that 83 percent of those who gave answers noted concerns about the effects of Internet censorship on their businesses. Mr. Zimmerman says that companies are mainly concerned about how Internet controls can affect the flow of information. Those are things that affect everyone, he says.

    He adds that Internet censorship affects some businesses more than others. However, services industries that depend on information are among the hardest hit.

    And that's the Economics Report from VOA Learning English. I'm Mario Ritter.