United States Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has sent a letter to Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang warning that recent antitrust probes against foreign carmakers and other companies might affect the relations between the two countries, The Wall Street Journal reported. According to the paper, Lew said in the letter that China's focus on foreign companies could devalue foreign intellectual property.
The paper, citing people briefed on the contents of the letter, said it was sent in recent days. China has placed under probe at least 30 foreign companies, including US-based firms like Microsoft Corp. and Qualcomm Inc. China has been trying to implement an anti-monopoly law passed in 2008. Critics, however, has claimed that China has been using that law to target unfairly foreign companies.
Chinese regulators have already imposed penalties against carmakers -- a local venture of Volkswagen AG and the China sales unit of Chrysler -- for allegedly violating the law. The units were being made to pay a $46 million fine.
Following talks on the US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in July, the Treasury said China recognized that the competition policy should promote consumer welfare and economic efficiency and enforcement of related law should be fair, objective, transparent, and non-discriminatory.
Four leading international business lobbies have already expressed concern over the probe by China. Among theor concerns include foreign companies being unfairly targeted as well as the use of strong-arm tactics by regulators.
China's anti-monopoly regulators, however, said they are not targeting foreign firms, adding that the enforcement work is fair and transparent.