'Made in China' plan not biased against foreign firms: Beijing

China's plan to boost domestic manufacturing will not be discriminatory against foreign firms, and the move to upgrade its industries is part of a larger goal to transform the country from a big trading nation to a strong one, senior government officials said yesterday.

Minister for Industry and Information Technology Miao Wei refuted claims that the initiative known as "Made in China 2025" was unfair to foreign companies.

China started the initiative two years ago in a bid to move its industries up the production value chain to meet domestic demands as well as to be globally competitive.

The focus was to develop home-grown companies in 10 key high-tech sectors such as robotics and new-energy vehicles.

"Policies related to Made in China 2025 are applicable to all firms operating in China, and we do not treat domestic and foreign firms differently," said Mr Miao at a press conference on the sidelines of the annual parliamentary session.

His comments were in response to criticism by the European Union Chamber of Commerce in a report released earlier last week, which described the initiative as "highly problematic" and "severely curtailing the position of foreign business" in favour of Chinese competitors.

Mr Miao also dismissed the suggestion that the government had pressured foreign new-energy carmakers to transfer technology to China in exchange for market access. The entry policies were the same for all firms, domestic or foreign, to prevent them from cheating on government subsidies, he said.

He noted that foreign firms also formed an important part of the Chinese economy, just like the state- owned enterprises and private companies. In fact, he welcomed foreign firms to invest in high-end, smart and green manufacturing in China.

When asked to comment on the failed attempts by China's Tsinghua Unigroup to acquire two separate Taiwanese semi-conductor firms in recent months, Mr Miao said this was purely a business decision taken by both sides.

In general, China welcomed Taiwanese firms, but he hoped that "openness is two-sided, not one-sided". "We encourage and support Taiwanese companies to develop in the mainland and, at the same time, Taiwan should have an even more open attitude towards mainland companies entering Taiwan," he said.

In a separate press conference, Commerce Minister Zhong Shan spoke on wide-ranging topics related to foreign trade, boosting domestic consumption and US-China trade relations.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 12, 2017, with the headline ''Made in China' plan not biased against foreign firms: Beijing'. Print Edition | Subscribe