China will improve access for foreign companies

The Chinese government will create an environment for fair competition for foreign firms

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Chinese Premier Li Keqiang speaks to Montreal businessmen at the 6th China-Canada Economic & Trade Cooperation Forum in Montreal, Canada September 23, 2016. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's State Council, or cabinet, said on Saturday the country is committed to improve access for foreign companies in China, as part of "a new round of high-level opening up".

According to a statement released on Saturday following a State Council meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang, the Chinese government will create an environment for fair competition for foreign firms.

"It's important part of pushing forward a new round of high-level opening up," the statement said.

In the future, except for certain sensitive industries in which access for foreign companies is restricted, foreign investments would only require registration, rather than approval. The statement did not offer details on how the new system would work.

It also said the Chinese government would take further steps to improve market entry for foreign companies.

The State Council’s statement comes at a time when the foreign business community in China has become highly critical of the current unbalanced access for foreign companies in China.

Last month, a top European business lobby warned China that it risked a protectionist backlash unless it opened its markets faster to foreign investment.

Progress on China's economic reforms has been "highly disappointing", the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China said in an annual paper, released as China prepared to host leaders from the world's biggest economies at last month’s G20 summit in Hangzhou.

(Reporting by Norihiko Shirouzu and Shu Zhang in Beijing; Editing by Stephen Powell)