China Foreign Investment Law

Call for comments

A major Chinese news agency asked me for my comments on the China Foreign Investment Law, in the middle of March. I tried to give a more honest approach keeping in mind the concerns of the small and medium foreign enterprises. Their voice is mostly ignored in favor of the bigger companies who have little choice but to play nice and avoid controversial remarks.
Not surprisingly, auto-censorship on the Chinese side could not let my contribution pass. Only favorable comments were welcome. And I refused to sugarcoat the issues.
It is actually not very constructive to improve the business environment if any meaningful dialogue is banned.
The most important comment I had left out: “Why is there a need for a China Foreign Investment Law anyway?” If foreigners set up a legal Chinese entity in China, why a different treatment? In the E.U. such as in Belgium no such law exists.

See the comment from the European Chamber, part of the article “European Chamber’s Stance on the Foreign Investment Law”, see

More than anything else, foreign companies want equal treatment and opportunities, while not all of our concerns were addressed in this law, it is time to move forward. We will closely monitor the FIL’s implementation to ensure that it is fully respected at all levels of government and in all corners of this country.

My comments on the China Foreign Investment Law

See the full text here:  190315 foreigninvestmentlaw

What is acesulfame?

I already explained but just google it for more details.
The point I want to make is that this substance is not known and receives no attention. But the consequences of the ban have been dramatic for many foreign products entering China: all destroyed. You won’t read those stories in the press.

Dialogue is necessary

The European Chamber and Amcham, among others, are still keeping up their dialogue with the Chinese authorities to get rid of unfair rules and have scored progress for a range of products.
Also, the general feeling of Europeans (including me) is that China becoming a world power is not a threat as such; how it fulfills its role is another matter.

Much remains to be done to make the business environment open and fair. Indeed a painful issue is the unequal treatment of foreign businesses in general.
More about that later in other posts.

Opening of the Israel Business & Cultural Center in Beijing

On Sunday 28 June, as member of the Israeli Chamber of Commerce (Ischam) I joined the official opening of the IBCC in 798 Art Zone. The brand-new building serves as the office of Ischam as well as a cultural and business center. Pretty cool and there were some interesting exhibits.
The weather was, well, sauna-like but that did not deter a big crowd. Luckily I came early so I could have a quiet look-around. Also good to meet some familiar faces.

Speeches were by the Ambassador Mr. Matan Vinai, Rabbi Shimon Freundlich and Peter, the Chinese businessman behind the setup of IBCC. And others. The Rabbi also affixed the Mezuzah on the entrance of the IBCC, together with the Ambassador.

What are the worst behaviors of Chinese drivers?

I found this on, dated 18 December 2014. It lists the 10 bad behaviors of Chinese drivers. Amusing as I guess there must be at least 100, the list is endless. Anyway, interesting view:
Editor’s note: MichaelM, our blogger from the US, sums up the most common, chaotic driving practices of Chinese drivers.
1. They will exceed the speed limit so long as there is no traffic camera in sight.
2. They will pass you like crazy on the shoulder of the road.
3. They will cut you off with mere inches to spare.
4. They will honk at you repeatedly with “seemingly” no patience at all.
5. They quickly use the lane of oncoming traffic to bypass numerous stopped cars or going slow in a traffic jam. Oncoming traffic just makes room for them, as if it is normal.
6. They will use the sidewalk if it’s convenient for them to get ahead of you.
7. They will pull out in front of you no matter the situation and expect you to stop.
8. They will cut in on you in traffic and expect you to submit and allow them to do it.
9. They do have laws very similar to ours in the West, but, they are totally disregarded. They mean nothing because there is no one to enforce them except for the traffic cameras, which are few and far between.
10. Pedestrians can be seen nearly everywhere walking in the middle of the road, with seemingly no concern for their own safety or the fact that they are holding up traffic. The drivers will honk at them and simply go around them as if nothing is wrong.
So, Michael, go back to the street and add the other 90!
Not to be surprised, Beijing traffic remains a mess, traffic police is nowhere to be seen and is totally useless. And makes pollution worse.

University College Dublin Michael Smurfit School in Beijing

This Friday 13 March I talked to a group of fifty executive MBAs; students have an average of 34 years old and 10 years of work experience. The tour is organized by Legacy Ventures, UK.
They have been coming since a few years,

Topic was “A(nother) view on China and 2015: China at the crossroads”
Venue: Hotel New Otani Chang Fu Gong Beijing
Our partner Nicolas Ruble of made a video of the 90 minutes seminar and I am curious to see the result…

And the seminars go and on: Holland in Beijing

Normally twice per year I receive a group from Holland, mostly in Duge Boutique Hotel (Nanluoguxiang). The MBA students are either from Rijksuniversiteit Groningen or the Executive MBA Sports Management (Wagner Sports).

The themes are general introduction about China (people, business and more) and a look back at the 2008 Olympics, with an update of the sport industry in China today (in English).
See the pictures of the sessions of 17 November 2013 and 24 March 2014.
Always a small group but with a lively Q&A (in Dutch)