U.S. business lobby says concerned China antitrust probes unfair

Tue Sep 2, 2014 4:07am EDT
 
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By Michael Martina

BEIJING (Reuters) - Foreign companies are increasingly concerned they are being targeted by Chinese regulators, a U.S. business lobby said on Tuesday, as a Chinese antitrust agency defended probes into firms such as U.S. chipmaker Qualcomm Inc (QCOM.O: Quote).

The American Chamber of Commerce in China is the latest business lobby to air its grievances over a series of investigations scrutinizing at least 30 foreign firms, as China seeks to enforce a 2008 anti-monopoly law.

There are growing perceptions that multinational firms are under "selective and subjective enforcement" using "legal and extra-legal approaches", the Chamber said in a report.

A survey of 164 members showed 49 percent of respondents felt foreign companies were being singled out in recent pricing and anti-corruption campaigns, compared to 40 percent in a late 2013 survey of 365 members. Twenty-five percent said they were uncertain, or did not know, and 26 percent said no.

Chamber Vice Chairman Lester Ross told reporters the major expansion of enforcement was welcome in principle, but regulators were using "extra-legal" means to conduct investigations.

"They have taken what are, in many instances, vague or unspecified provisions in the law and moved to enforce them, and sought to enforce those means through processes that do not respect the notion of due process or fairness," Ross said.

Sixty percent of respondents in the survey also reported they felt foreign business was becoming less welcome in China.

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A shadow of a man using his mobile phone is cast near Microsoft logo at the 2014 Computex exhibition in Taipei June 4, 2014. REUTERS/Pichi Chuang