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US firms feel increasingly unwelcome in China: survey

A growing number of American businesses feel unwelcome in China because of what they see as discriminatory government policies and inconsistent legal treatment, according to a survey released on Monday.

world Updated: Mar 22, 2010 15:34 IST

A growing number of American businesses feel unwelcome in China because of what they see as discriminatory government policies and inconsistent legal treatment, according to a survey released on Monday.

The American Chamber of Commerce in China asked 203 member companies if they felt unwelcome to participate and compete in China's market, with 38 percent saying they did, up from 26 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009.

Inconsistent regulatory interpretation and judicial treatment topped the list of concerns for American businesses, the survey said.

Respondents also blamed what they view as a push by Beijing to squeeze foreign technology companies out of the lucrative government procurement market.

"The AmCham-China survey shows that US companies believe they face product discrimination in state-owned enterprise purchases, as well as in government procurement," a statement accompanying the survey results said.

The survey was released as the trial of four employees of Anglo-Australian miner Rio Tinto -- including an Australian citizen -- on bribery and trade secrets charges opened in Shanghai.

The four defendants were arrested last July during contentious iron ore contract negotiations that later collapsed, and after Rio snubbed a near 20-billion-dollar cash injection from state-run Chinese mining firm Chinalco.

The trial has strained Beijing's relations with Canberra and raised concerns about doing business in China.

The survey also comes as US Internet giant Google has threatened to leave China, citing cyber attacks and censorship, and with Sino-US ties inflamed over a range of contentious issues including China's currency policy.

Critics say China keeps the value of its yuan artificially low, making its exports cheaper and thus more competitive on world markets.