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China does not discriminate against foreign firms - industry minister

BEIJING (Reuters) - China does not discriminate against foreign companies operating within its borders, its industry minister said on Saturday following foreign business groups' claims Beijing's market reforms give local firms an unfair advantage.

"We do not have any policies that discriminate against foreign investment in China. All our policies treat domestic and foreign companies in the same way," Miao Wei, the head of China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, told reporters at a press conference on the sidelines of the annual parliament session in Beijing.

Beijing's "Made in China 2025" plan calls for a dramatic increase in domestically-made products in 10 sectors - from robotics to biopharmaceuticals - that the government hopes will accelerate an industrial upgrade as economic growth slows.

Foreign business groups, however, worry that the plan will force members to give up key technology in order to access the market or bypass them altogether.

"Made in China 2025" amounts to a "large-scale import substitution plan aimed at nationalising key industries" or "severely curtailing the position of foreign business", the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China said in a report released on Tuesday.

Parts of the report had misinterpreted or misunderstood China's "Made in China 2025" policy, Miao Wei told reporters, adding that he had spent three days reading the report.

"At present, developed countries refuse to export certain technology and products to China and 'anti-globalisation' and trade protectionism are gaining traction," Miao said.

Miao said without nuturing advanced technologies, China's economic growth and national security would suffer and the country would be unable to provide for its people.

While many low-end industries in China suffer from overcapacity, consumer demand for mid-to-high-level products remained unmet resulting in Chinese consumers buying imported goods instead, he said.



(Reporting by Sue-Lin Wong; Editing by Sam Holmes)