China's vice president promised foreign companies equal treatment in the government's latest effort to reassure investors amid complaints conditions for them are worsening.
Foreign business groups complain that China's efforts to promote "indigenous innovation" by favoring domestic companies violates the spirit of its World Trade Organization market-opening commitments.
The vice president, Xi Jinping, said Beijing would alter the procurement rules that prompted an outcry from foreign companies by giving preference to Chinese-developed technology in multibillion-dollar annual government purchases of computers and other goods. He repeated promises that foreign-owned companies in China would be eligible to apply to be treated as domestic suppliers.
"China is working hard to create a better and more open investment environment for foreign investors," said Xi, widely seen as President Hu Jintao's likely successor as China's next leader, at an investment forum in the southern city of Xiamen.
Premier Wen Jiabao met with European business leaders in April and promised them a "level playing field." But foreign business groups say Beijing has yet to repeal discriminatory measures and is going ahead with others.
Foreign direct investment in China rose 29.2 percent in July to $6.9 billion, compared with a year earlier.
Foreign companies employ about 45 million people in China and account for 22 percent of its tax revenue, Xi said.
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