Recent efforts to improve the business climate for foreign businesses, including measures to facilitate the entry of company executives and their family members, will help China integrate more deeply into the global economy, said officials and experts.
In a policy document published on June 29, the State Council unveiled steps to deepen reforms in five free trade zones — Shanghai, Guangdong, Tianjin, Fujian and Beijing — as well as in the Hainan Free Trade Port, as part of efforts to boost institutional opening up.
Spouses and family members of executives who have been transferred to foreign-invested businesses in pilot areas, enjoy similar entry and residency periods as executives.
Meanwhile, executives of foreign businesses planning to establish new subsidiaries in pilot regions will be granted a maximum period of two years' residency, the document said.
Yang Zhengwei, head of the department of pilot free trade zone and free trade ports at the Ministry of Commerce, told a news conference that the measures are intended to help foreign executives bring their families to China, and to make the country more attractive to global talent.
The measure to extend the period of stay for executives opening new branches in free trade zones will help attract foreign investment, he added.
The moves come as foreign direct investment on the Chinese mainland dropped 2.7 percent year-on-year to 703.65 billion yuan ($97.47 billion) in the first half of the year, according to data from the ministry. The number of new foreign-backed businesses established in the same period was 24,000, a year-on-year increase of 35.7 percent.
Andy Mok, a senior research fellow at the Center for China and Globalization, a Beijing-based think tank, said the moves to ease entry and residency rules for foreign executives and their families "represents a strategic move to attract global talent and foster foreign investment".
"This showcases not only China's commitment to integrate more deeply into the global economy, but also its ambition to spur high-quality growth through an influx of foreign expertise and innovative practices," he said.
Other key measures in the policy document include ensuring that Chinese and foreign financial institutions have the same access when authorities greenlight the opening of new services in pilot areas.
Individuals and businesses will be allowed to purchase financial services from overseas, and the legal investments of foreign investors will be transferred in and out of China freely, and without delay.