Senator Charles SchumerUS senator Charles Schumer via Wikipedia

Is China closing its doors, as companies like GE, BASF and Siemens say, or is it more open than ever, as the country’s officials say? It’s a matter of perception, writes Shaun Rein in CNBC, especially now America’s economy is in trouble and politicians need easy scapegoats.

The reality is, the country is not becoming more protectionist — just that some sectors that have never been open to foreigners, have remained that way. Energy and financial services industries, for example, which have been viewed by Beijing as critical to national security, will continue to be challenging for foreign firms to operate.

On the other hand, markets like the auto sector remain mostly open, as the government is in favor of joint ventures with key foreign players like Toyota and Ford, to ensure technology transfer and help the China catch up with other nations.

But then there is the perception:

As Americans question their way of life and worry about the lives of their children, it is easy for U.S. politicians like Senator Charles Schumer, who are looking for scapegoats for America’s economic mess rather than addressing the country’s very real internal structural and cultural problems, to point a finger at China.

ShaunRein2Shaun Rein by Fantake via Flickr

And as unfavorable as it is for China, the country needs to do a better job at soft power if it wants to stave off rising anti-China sentiment, and keep support from foreign business. While the country is not in danger in losing continued investment, things could change as its labor and costs of business soar. Already, there is talk of Indonesia and Brazil becoming the next hot manufacturing destinations.

More arguments at CNBC.

Shaun Rein is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. When you need him at your meeting or conference, do get in touch.

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