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Foreign Companies in China Feel Harassed by Investigations

The state alleges price fixing and threats to national security
An Apple Store in Beijing
An Apple Store in BeijingPhotograph by Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images

“China continues to welcome foreign investment, and the door will open even further,” Premier Li Keqiang told foreign company executives on Sept. 10 at a World Economic Forum in Tianjin. “We are committed to taking our opening-up policy to a higher level,” he said five days later in Beijing, at a second conference.

Why the reassuring words? A recent flood of regulatory actions and bad press about foreign businesses has those companies feeling unwelcome. In July a report on national television labeled the Apple iPhone a threat to national security because of its location-tracking app. Last month a dozen Japanese auto parts makers were fined a total of $202 million for price fixing. On Sept. 11, Beijing announced $46 million in fines on the local joint ventures of Volkswagen and Fiat Chrysler, also for pricing violations. Regulators have raided Microsoft’s offices across China and are investigating the software giant, as well as cell phone chipmaker Qualcomm, for monopolistic behavior.