China for adoption of foreign investment law

Beijing — Chinese lawmakers have called for swift adoption of a unified foreign investment law to further open the country.

The opinion won wide support at a panel deliberation Wednesday on the draft foreign investment law, which was submitted to the ongoing session of the National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee for the first reading.

Xiong Qunli, a Committee member, spoke highly of the contribution of foreign investment to China’s development in the past 40 years. He said the formulation of a unified basic law on foreign investment is “timely and necessary.”

Xiong and many other lawmakers called for prompt deliberation of the draft law and put it to a vote as soon as possible.

Once adopted, the unified foreign investment law will replace three existing laws, namely the laws on Chinese-foreign equity joint ventures, non-equity joint ventures (or contractual joint ventures) and wholly foreign-owned enterprises.

When introducing the draft to lawmakers on Sunday, Justice Minister Fu Zhenghua said the current laws can hardly catch up with the changing requirements in building a new system of open economy and there is an urgent need for such a unified law.

Committee member Li Fei said the State Council (cabinet)’s submission of the draft for review demonstrated China’s resolution in deepening reform and further opening itself to the world, as 2018 marks the 40th anniversary of its reform and opening-up.

Noting that the existing three laws were adopted by the NPC, Li said the new law replacing them should also be put to a vote at an NPC plenary session.

He suggested that the NPC Standing Committee should further review the draft and then refer it to the upcoming NPC plenary session in 2019 for deliberation and a vote following the requirement of the legislation law.

Lawmakers also gave their specific suggestions on improving the draft.

Committee member Jiang Xiaojuan called for the embedment of the principle of competitive neutrality or fair competition between domestic and foreign companies in the general provisions of the draft law.

The draft law highlighted the pre-establishment national treatment and negative list management, equal support policies and equal participation in government procurement.

It said conditions of technological cooperation concerning foreign investment should be decided by all parties of investment through negotiation, and government departments and officials cannot use administrative means for forced technology transfers.

Cai Fang, another member, said there should be further clarifications on “forced technology transfers.”

Chen Fengxiang, also a member of the NPC Standing Committee, called for an independent chapter on the admission review of foreign investment.

Also on Wednesday, the full text of the 39-article draft was published on the NPC website to solicit public opinion.

The public can upload their opinions online or send their suggestions by mail. The deadline for submitting opinions is Feb. 24, 2019. (Xinhua)