China welcomes foreign investment

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An investment exhibition in Tianjin. Premier Wen Jiabao promised to provide a level playing field for overseas investors on Monday. [China Daily]

Premier Wen Jiabao reiterated on Monday that China will strengthen its policy of attracting foreign investment, saying the country's development requires closer interaction with the rest of the world.

"China will only strengthen, rather than weaken, its measures of attracting foreign investment, especially in advanced technology and management experiences," Wen told a group of foreign company executives.

The audience was composed of overseas attendees to the 12th China Development Forum, an annual platform for business and academic leaders to interact with China's top decision-makers and economic policymakers.

"We hope foreign enterprises will not only set up factories in China but also build their research centers and regional headquarters in the country," he said.

Wen said he fully understood the concerns of some foreign investors, vowing to guarantee a fair playing field for foreign companies, including giving them the same treatment as local companies and effective lawful protection of intellectual property rights.

During the two-hour meeting with dozens of businessmen from renowned international companies and scholars, Wen also expressed his optimism about US, European and world economic prospects.

The United States has met setbacks in the financial crisis, but it still has strong technological strength thanks to rich human resources, Wen said.

"A powerful, balanced and sustainable recovery of the United States is to be expected soon with a stable and appropriate policy," he said.

Noting that China is not only a major exporter to the world, but also an important importer, Wen urged the United States to ease high-tech export restrictions to China, which will reduce its trade deficit with the nation.

The premier noted that it is important to solve the imbalance in Sino-US trade, with China having a trade surplus with the US.

"If the United States opens its market to China, we can import a tremendous amount of US-made products," Wen said.

He said Chinese enterprises also want to go to the United States for investment, hoping the country will further open its market to Chinese enterprises.

"I would like to take a cooperative approach to eliminate the contradiction between us," Wen added.

The premier also had a meeting with a delegation of US business leaders and former government officials last week, the first group of foreign guests he met with after the country's annual session of the National People's Congress.

China posted a trade deficit of US$7.3 billion, the biggest amount for seven years,in February.

Its exports grew by 2.4 percent year-on-year to US$96.74 billionwhile imports rose by 19.4 percent to US$104.4 billion.

The growth in exports slowed sharply from the 38 percent year-on-year rise in January, leading to China's first trade deficit since March last year and the biggest since February 2004.

The country's inbound foreign direct investment accelerated in February by 32.2 percent year-on-year to US$7.8 billion, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

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