China barrs foreign executives from returning to their companies

In late May several hundred German executives and their families who had been forced to leave China due to the pandemic were granted special permission to return to their workplaces there.

However it was anything but a sign of a return to normality. Many European companies in China are still waiting for their employees to return – but Chinese authorities are refusing to let them back in. A survey by the European Chamber of Commerce in China at the end of July showed that one-third of companies asked said none of their non-Chinese employees have been allowed to return.

One in five stated that only some of their ex-pats had been allowed back. Only 17 percent said all expat employees had been allowed to return to China. The Chamber views it as signalling a further tightening of restrictions on European firms by China. Almost half of those questioned said the pressure came mainly from the Chinese government.

44 percent said the tone of Chinese media has become more strident. More than a quarter had also had negative experiences with the Communist Party. While Europe’s borders are largely open to Chinese investors, the hurdles for entering the Chinese market are getting higher and higher.