Business executives are increasingly raising questions about Beijing’s treatment of international companies, emboldened by a sense that the Chinese market has become too important to stay silent.

Chinese-FlagBusiness executives are increasingly raising questions about Beijing’s treatment of international companies, emboldened by a sense that the Chinese market has become too important to stay silent.

The latest example came when two of Germany’s leading industrialists — Jurgen Hambrecht, chairman of chemical giant BASF SE, and Peter Loscher, chief executive of conglomerate Siemens AG — raised complaints during a public meeting with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel. That followed complaints in recent months from other top executives of General Electric Co., Microsoft Corp. and Google Inc.

“In the past, people would have preferred to do this either privately . . . or through a chamber of commerce or bilaterally in government negotiations,” said Christian Murck, a veteran China-based executive who is president of the American Chamber of Commerce in China.

The concerns center on policies that foreign executives feel put them at a disadvantage against increasingly potent Chinese competitors or compel them to transfer valuable technology to China, or otherwise limit their access to what is now the world’s biggest market for goods from trains to cars to cellphones.

“Some of these issues have been longstanding. But the fact is that China is so crucial to the growth of companies that more light is being thrown on them,” said Duncan Clark, head of Beijing-based consultancy BDA China and chairman of the British Chamber of Commerce in China. “The stakes are higher than ever.”

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Source: The Wall Street Journal