CIFTIS and expat confidence

Loss of confidence

In an earlier post I mentioned CIFTIS and expat confidence. We have a problem.

There is a need to restore confidence in the foreign business community so there can be an efficient cooperation in the service sector. In my little group of the “Old China Hands” I get feedback from expats about discrimination, even xenophobia, against foreigners who are wrongly considered to be the “dangerous virus carriers” importing COVID-19. This is totally baseless as the vast majority of foreigners cannot return to China since March. The very few who can re-enter are subject to stringent health checks. All dangerous “imported” virus cases are from returning Chinese nationals. The government has failed to clarify this, leading to many misunderstandings. As such the “opening up” and other talk is just hot air.
In our expat community I see with sadness many abandoning China, disappointed.

How we feel in China

Also Green Card holders complain about the discrimination, being refused access to hotels, most major hospitals and even restaurants, among others. Because we are “dangerous” people. Imagine Western countries would act the same way against Chinese people. That would unleash a storm of protest.

Another issue, in Beijing, is the lack of service staff, increasing salary costs and affecting quality of service. It is an issue that does not receive any attention from authorities and neither from foreign chambers of commerce. All while many Chinese are desperately looking for a job.

See:
How coronavirus has made travel in China a whole lot harder for foreigners: Travel restrictions in China have gradually eased as the country has brought the coronavirus pandemic under control. But that has not made finding a hotel any easier for foreign residents, one South China Morning Post reporter found.
https://www.scmp.com/economy/article/3101181/how-coronavirus-has-made-travel-china-whole-lot-harder-foreigners

Nobody offers help

Embassies and foreign chambers of commerce offer no help to rectify the discrimination. We are simply ignored. Many foreigners struggle to come back but attention is paid to mostly the big companies only. Furthermore most chambers have more and more Chinese members who don’t care about foreigners and do not dare to criticize their government.

In Beijing we can actually complain about discrimination through the hotline 12345. They have English service. Most foreigners do not dare to complain however. Chinese colleagues do not help at all.

Many expats giving up on China face the trauma to recover their belongings. The Japanese again are the most creative:
10 September 2020 – Expats retrieve possessions in China through ‘remote transfer’
By ATSUSHI OKUDERA –  Correspondent Asahi Shimbun
http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13669804

A service that allows strangers to rifle through one’s belongings is proving popular among Japanese expatriates trying to retrieve their possessions from China during the pandemic.

China and The World

Gilbert on CGTN

Here is the online link of the “China and the World” documentary. CGTN broadcasted it at 11:08 am on 27 December 2019, and replayed it at 03:08 am on 28 December, and it also launched it on the CGTN new media platform. My part starts from 18:25 to 20:58. Renaat Morel is also featured. As you can see the “answers” I provided and were retained are not that close to the questions. As a matter of fact many of my comments were not considered, too much self-censorship… I even taught they would not show me… maybe I said too much with honesty…
The link works on Safari, not on Firefox in my case.

https://s-url.cgtn.com/m/fDFHIA

The questions

See the introduction by CCTV, CGTN is the international channel of CCTV.
To celebrate the 70 anniversary of PRC, CCTV is making a special documentary about the personnel exchange. We would like to invite you to join us to talk about China’s development and the exchanges between China and the rest of the world from the perspective of foreigners.
Questions:

  1. What is your initial impression of the Chinese people? Where does it come from and what new discoveries have been made after dealing with the Chinese people?
  2. What are the characteristics and cultural differences of Chinese people studying and working abroad?
  3. Among the Chinese studying abroad, a considerable proportion of them remain working and living abroad. Is this a drain of resources or a channel for China to export influence?
  4. What changes have China’s national image experienced since the 1970s? In your opinion, what aspects of China’s influence on the world are the most significant?
  5. In your opinion, what does reform and opening up mean to China?
  6. Compared with the 1990s, more Chinese graduates have returned to China for development. What’s your take on that?
  7. Nowadays, many foreigners come to China to work and start businesses. How far is China from becoming an international human resources market?

Visiting my office

On 22 August 2019 the CGTN team visited my office where part of the interview was shot. Later we walked to Morel’s Restaurant where we had lunch.

See the pics at my office and screenshots of the online interview. Some nice shots of myself. They used another angle to shoot, unlike all other TV crews.

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 https://www.europeanchamber.com.cn/en/press-releases/2937

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.