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Business

Business group accuses China of picking on foreign firms

In recent anti-trust and bribery probes, China has singled out foreign firms, sparing domestic companies, the European Chamber of Commerce in China says. The group is calling on Beijing to ensure fair competition.

In China's recent corruption and pricing investigations, there was a disproportionate number of how many foreign companies were called out on these issues, Davide Cucino, the president of the European Chamber of Commerce in China said Thursday.

Accusations against foreign companies were receiving more prominent coverage in the state-controlled media, Cucino added while speaking at the release of a Chamber report on business conditions in China.

Cucino noted that domestic companies received partisan treatment, adding: "This plays out through nationalistic industrial policies and through conditions being placed on the opening of markets to foreign investment, like technology transfer requirements."

In a series of high-profile price-fixing cases, Beijing imposed fines on six foreign dairy firms, which allegedly colluded to set minimum prices for baby formula.

Moreover, British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and its French rival Sanofi are being investigated for allegedly bribing Chinese doctors to prescribe their medications.

In August, Chinese media reported that the government was preparing investigations into possible anti-trust violations against foreign companies in the petroleum, telecommunications, automobile and banking sectors.

Regarding the drugs sector investigation, the head of the European Chamber's pharmaceuticals working group, Bruno Gensburger, said that companies with the strongest ethical standards had been singled out and that no Chinese company had been investigated.

In its report, the Chamber - which represents 1,700 companies in China - called on the Chinese government to ensure the natural functioning of a fair and open competitive marketplace that would give foreign companies equal treatment.

uhe/kms (dpa, AP)

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