China rails against protectionism at party congress

Wed Nov 14, 2012 2:04am EST
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By Nick Edwards

BEIJING Nov 14 (Reuters) - China's top trade and investment officials are railing against what they call a rising tide of global protectionism t h at blocks its major companies from expanding overseas and further integrating into the global economy.

The officials, speaking on the sidelines of a week-long Communist Party Congress, said protectionism was emerging across the world, not just in the West. It damaged global growth, frayed relations and could see China focus its investments in neighbouring Asian nations, the officials said.

"We are against it," Industry Minister Miao Wei told reporters on Wednesday when asked what he thought about protectionism as he left the Great Hall of the People after the closing session of the congress.

Commerce Minister Chen Deming had set the tone earlier last week, deriding the "Cold War mentality" of Washington lawmakers who urged U.S. firms in a landmark report last month not to do business with two top Chinese telecom equipment makers because of risks to national security.

He was followed by Lou Jiwei, chairman and CEO of China Investment Corporation, who told Reuters a rise in protectionism was forcing a rethink at the country's $482 billion sovereign wealth fund, which would not spend money in countries "that do not welcome us".

"There are other places to invest," Lou said.

Asia is a particularly favoured option for CIC, thanks to some of the fastest rates of growth and development in the world - which are themselves levered to China's own economic dynamism.

Li Ruogu, president of the Export-Import Bank of China, which is a main source of loans for Chinese firms investing abroad, complained of "added layers of protectionism" being stacked up against China's increasingly outward-looking companies.   Continued...