Nicholas Burns, the U.S. Ambassador to China, expressed the United States growing concern over China’s recent “punitive” actions against some American companies.
While speaking at a think tank, Burns highlighted the reluctance of foreign firms to invest in China due to the uncertainty surrounding the country’s economic openness. He also addressed the rising use of exit bans, increased scrutiny towards due diligence firms, and the ambiguous wording of China’s new counterespionage law.
The counterespionage law prohibits the transfer of any information related to national security and expands the definition of spying. Burns noted that this legislation could potentially endanger academic researchers, professors, and journalists by criminalizing routine activities and due diligence necessary for rational business decisions. He emphasized that the U.S. intends to discuss the matter with the Chinese government, adding that American businesses should be free from government intimidation and not targeted for political or competitive differences in the U.S.-China relationship.
This comes after the Mintz Group, a U.S. corporate due diligence firm, reported a raid on its Beijing office and the detention of five local staff members. The Chinese foreign ministry cited suspicions of unlawful business operations as the reason. Additionally, last week, U.S. management consultancy Bain & Co revealed that police had visited their Shanghai office and questioned staff.