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Multinational Corporations Have a Crisis of Confidence in China

The French newspaper Les Échos published an analysis on Multinational companies’ crisis of confidence in China, focusing on the business community’s shock at  the brutal closure of Shanghai. They have been forced to re-evaluate the “China risk” including factors such as the zero-Covid policy, the war in Ukraine and tensions between the US and China.

The analysis says that the closure, as well as the broader disruptions caused by China’s zero-Covid policy, translate into huge economic costs. Foreign companies have massively reduced their forecasts. According to data from the European Union Chamber of Commerce, as of April, 60 percent of European subsidiaries had lowered their business targets for 2022. Production could be suspended at any time, with the epidemic and China’s draconian Covid prevention policies becoming a sword of Damocles hanging over these companies. According to a survey by the French Chamber of Commerce and Industry in China, 80 percent of French subsidiaries said that China’s zero-Covid policy is affecting their investment strategy, with 76 percent believing China’s image has deteriorated.

Geopolitics and the growing competition between the U.S. and China are other major long-term factors. Trade wars have complicated the business of multinational companies in China. The war between Russia and Ukraine has abruptly posed new risks. The potential consequences of Beijing’s possible attack on Taiwan could be even greater than that of Western companies’ retreat from Russia. In addition, companies are weighing the effect of the rise of local competitors, increased regulatory restrictions and the reputational risk of doing business in China due to Western condemnation of issues such as Xinjiang and Hong Kong. Many factors are prompting these companies to reassess their long term “China risk.”

Source: Radio France International, June 21, 2022