The business climate for Western firms in China is getting worse.
2 weeks ago, the CEO of General Electric, Jeffrey Immelt, caused a stir when he told a private dinner that “I really worry about China. I am not sure that in the end they want any of us to win, or any of us to be successful.”
Today, BASF CEO, Jürgen Hambrecht, has publicly hit out at restrictions on foreign business. In a meeting with Wen Jiabao, China’s premier, he complained about “foreign companies being forced to transfer business and technological know-how to Chinese companies in exchange for market access“, and concluded “that does not exactly correspond to our views of a partnership.”
Replying, Wen apparently told Hambrecht to “calm down“, and went on to add, “currently, there is an allegation that China’s investment environment is worsening. I think it is untrue.”
Hambrecht has been a staunch defender of China in the past, even criticising German Chancellor Angela Merkel for her meeting with the Dalai Lama in 2007. His public concern is therefore a clear sign that China’s relationships with Western firms are deteriorating.