The Chinese government will treat foreign companies fairly, including with regard to government procurement deals, Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming said.

His comments, reported on the ministry’s website on Monday, appeared to be aimed at allaying concern among foreign investors about the country’s “indigenous innovation” policy, which critics say favours domestic producers over foreign suppliers.

Chen said the nationality of companies did not matter as long as production took place in China.

“All foreign-funded enterprises in China are Chinese enterprises. Products from these enterprises are Chinese products. All innovation activities carried out in China are Chinese innovations,” Chen told Japanese government officials and business executives at meetings in Tokyo.

“China’s policy of encouraging indigenous innovation is not linked to China’s trade policies,” he said.

As for government procurement, China had determined the classification of “local products” based on whether the products had value added in China, Chen said.

China recently modified draft “indigenous innovation” government procurement rules to address concerns raised by foreign companies.

The government has also said it will submit a new proposal by mid-July to the World Trade Organisation to join the WTO government procurement agreement, which regulates trade in public-sector purchases. (Reuters)