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     BEIJING (MNI) - The Chinese government is accelerating steps to improve the
business environment for private companies, including moves to provide enhanced
protection for intellectual property and expand the areas foreign firms can
invest in, a senior Ministry of Commerce official said on Friday.
     China aims to "create a fairer, more transparent, convenient and attractive
environment for businesses," Tang Wenhong, director general of the ministry's
foreign investment department told a press conference.
     Foreign companies have long complained of insufficient protection for
intellectual property, a matter which is also of major concern to the U.S. in
the ongoing trade war.
     MOFCOM will monitor local governments' progress in establishing a
complaints system for foreign investors by the end of this year, and next year
will invalidate or amend rules and documents not in line with the new policies,
Tang said.
     Government departments will also expand the areas which foreign companies
can invest in, Tang said. Guidance and documentation for foreign investment in
middle and western China - regions where the government is keen to boost
development - will be issued before March, he said.
     Progress towards easing restrictions on foreign firms will be "constantly
sped up," Tang said, telling MNI later that MOFCOM was working on expanding
Shanghai's free trade pilot zone, which Chinese President Xi Jinping announced
in a speech at the International Import Expo earlier this week.
     Xiong Maoping, head of the registration department at the State
Administration of Market Regulation, said officials will also reduce licencing
requirements, crack down on violators of intellectual property rights and
increase inspection of local governments' collection of fees from small and
micro businesses.
--MNI Beijing Bureau; +86 (10) 8532-5998; email: iris.ouyang@marketnews.com
--MNI London Bureau; +44208-865-3829; email: Jason.Webb@marketnews.com
[TOPICS: M$A$$$,M$Q$$$,MGQ$$$]

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