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Secretary Locke Addresses Chinese Foreign Direct Investment in the United States and the Current State of U.S.-China Commercial Relations

Secretary Locke Addresses the Asia Society at the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Kissinger Institute on China and the United States

This morning, Secretary Locke addressed the Asia Society Center on U.S.-China Relations and the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Kissinger Institute on China. The groups today released a new study that shows Chinese foreign direct investment in America doubling in each of the last two years. Chinese investors now have investments in at least 35 of our 50 states, across dozens of industries, employing thousands of Americans. Locke welcomed this news, but also noted progress the U.S. needs to see from Beijing to improve the business environment for American companies trying to invest or expand into China.

He said, “When it comes to market access problems for foreign companies, the issues may be different, but the fundamental problem often boils down to the distance between the promises of China’s government and action.”

As Reuters reported:

Locke said China's often opaque government regulations and poor enforcement of patents and other intellectual property rights indirectly discouraged foreign investment. "But China has also pursued policies that make investment by foreign companies especially challenging," he said.

Those include "indigenous innovation policies that shut foreign companies entirely out of industries or make unacceptable technology transfer provisions a condition of operating in China," Locke said. He said Chinese officials pledged at past high-level forums in 2009 and 2010 to lift foreign investment prohibitions on many industries in which U.S. firms are world leaders. But China's recently revised "Foreign Investment Catalog falls far short of that promise," Locke said.

Secretary Locke highlighted these concerns ahead of next week’s U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue meetings, noting that constructive change requires dialogue.

Secretary Locke finished his remarks by underlining how important the U.S.-China relationship is to both countries and the world.

In front of us is the opportunity for China and the United States to lead the world economy in the early 21st century, to create a new foundation for sustainable growth for years to come.  We can’t tell exactly what that future will look like.  But we can be certain that it will be a better future if the Chinese and American governments pursue cooperation over confrontation in the economic sphere. Cooperation that will put millions of our people to work. Cooperation that will develop technologies to solve the most pressing environmental, economic, and social challenges facing the world today.

This is the great opportunity before China and the United States.  We just have to seize it.

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