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China Exclusive: Prejudice dents enterprises' overseas expansion

English.news.cn   2012-12-04 18:26:23            

BEIJING, Dec. 4 (Xinhua) -- As China moves to invest billions in businesses around the world, Chinese entrepreneurs are trying to overcome the sense that their investment is not welcome there.

Although the reasons given are numerous, national security is routinely cited by politicians and media that oppose plans by Chinese enterprises to acquire or put money into foreign companies.

In the most recent case, Chinese tycoon Huang Nubo was denied permission by the Icelandic government for the second time to purchase a plot of land for the purpose of building a resort.

Huang, chairman of Beijing-based Zhongkun Investment Group Co., a property development company, said he has been "angry and annoyed" by his treatment.

"I did not get the fair treatment that an invited foreign investor is entitled to there," Huang said, adding that the Icelandic government has approved a dozen other investment plans from European and U.S. investors.

In August 2011, Huang sought to invest 200 million U.S. dollars in an Iceland resort, including more than 8 million U.S. dollars for purchasing land. The resort was intended to include a hotel, golf course and areas for outdoor activities.

However, Icelandic laws that forbid foreigners from purchasing land led him to seek a land lease instead.

Although Huang denied being part of any government scheme and insisted that he simply wanted to develop his tourism business, criticisms of the plan have taken on a geo-political flavor, fearing the resort could be used by China to gain a strategic foothold in Iceland.

Huang attributed the prejudice to an anti-China ideology and rising trade protectionism, as China has achieved fast development while the rest of the world is still smarting from the impact of the global financial crisis and its aftermath.

The failure of a handful of Chinese investment attempts, both by state-owned enterprises and private firms, in the past have left many Chinese wary of the investment climate in some Western countries.

In 2005, China's largest offshore oil company CNOOC suffered a setback in its attempt to purchase Unocal. In early 2011, China's top telecommunication equipment maker Huawei Technologies Co. withdrew its agreement to buy the assets of U.S. company 3Leaf Systems under pressure from the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment.

Some Western nations have been containing Chinese businesses under the pretense of national security threats and other groundless accusations, said Bao Yujun, president of the China Society of Private Economic Research.

Chinese investors who go overseas are mostly yield-driven or motivated by development needs, such as securing raw materials. Therefore, allegations that these investments are motivated by political considerations should be dropped, economists said.

Huang advised Chinese companies seeking overseas investment to focus more on domestic development and improving their international competitiveness.

"The final result is not important anymore," he said in reference to the Iceland resort, adding that he hopes to get a clear-cut answer from Icelandic regulators instead of following reports in local media.

Editor: Wang Yuanyuan
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