Foreign direct investment into China fell 17 percent in July from a year earlier, but officials dismissed suggestions that the decline was due to the government’s anti-trust investigations into overseas companies, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.
The country’s inbound FDI stood at just US$7.8 billion for the month, the lowest monthly figure in two years. For the first seven months of this year, foreign investment was US$71.1 billion, also slightly lower than during the same period in 2013, according to the newspaper.
“Speculation about China’s antitrust probes targeting certain countries are baseless,” Ministry of Commerce spokesman Shen Danyang told a press briefing on Monday. “I don’t think a few anti-trust investigations will scare foreign investors away.”
Instead, Shen attributed the decline in FDI to excess manufacturing capacity. Investment in the service and high-tech sectors remains strong, he said.
China has launched a series of probes into foreign companies for possible violations of the antimonopoly law. Among those affected were Microsoft Corp., chip maker Qualcomm Inc. as well as car giants Audi AG, Daimler AG and Chrysler.
Critics have charged that regulators are singling out foreign companies, and that the probes are conducted arbitrarily.
“In some of the industries under investigation, domestic companies have not been targeted for similar violations,” the European Chamber of Commerce in China said in a statement last week.
In some cases, authorities have tried to intimidate foreign companies, telling them not to challenge the investigations, bring lawyers to hearings, or ask for help from their home governments, the chamber said.
Meanwhile, the country’s outbound direct investment hit a new high of US$52.6 billion in the first seven months of the year, up 4 percent from the same period last year, the report said.
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