The China Development Forum, a high-profile, government-hosted conference with a who’s who of international executives in attendance, was a moment for Beijing to renew its efforts to win over foreign businesses.
Businesses from outside China “are not foreigners, but family,” said Wang Wentao, China’s commerce minister. State media reported that the chief executives of Apple, Pfizer and Procter & Gamble were at the forum, held in late March. Many of the dozens of business leaders there were on their first trip to China since the country had closed its markets to the world and derailed its economy with harsh Covid policies.
Mr. Wang pledged to remove obstacles preventing firms from investing more — 2023, he declared, was “Invest in China year.”
The good will did not last long.
The recent targeting of consulting and advisory firms with foreign ties through raids, detainments and arrests has reignited concerns about doing business in China. Executives, whether at midsize manufacturers or large corporations, are exploring how to reduce the threats to their businesses and protect their employees.