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China Premier Li meets Samsung boss, vows to help foreign firms

Chinese Premier Li Qiang is in Seoul for a trilateral summit with Japan and South Korea (ANTHONY WALLACE)
Chinese Premier Li Qiang is in Seoul for a trilateral summit with Japan and South Korea (ANTHONY WALLACE)

China's Premier Li Qiang said his country will always be open to foreign companies and promised steps to boost their confidence in the world's second-largest economy, state media reported.

Li made the comments during his meeting with the chairman of South Korean tech titan Samsung in Seoul on Sunday, the eve of a trilateral summit between South Korea, China and Japan.

A world leader in chips and smartphones, Samsung is one of the most prominent foreign companies in China, investing billions of dollars over the years into facilities that produce semiconductors and other electronics.

"Foreign-funded enterprises are an indispensable force for China's development and China's mega-market will always be open to foreign-funded companies," Li said during the meeting with Samsung boss Lee Jae-yong, according to the Xinhua news agency.

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China will take steps including expanding market access to improve the business environment so that foreign companies "can rest assured in their investment and development in China", he added.

"China welcomes South Korean companies including Samsung to continue to expand investment and cooperation in China."

The European Union Chamber of Commerce in China said this month that its member firms were suffering because of issues such as market access and regulatory barriers.

During his meeting with Samsung's chairman, Premier Li also "called on enterprises of China and South Korea to tap deeper into their cooperation potential in new areas such as... artificial intelligence", Xinhua reported.

Samsung is among a handful of companies that can produce the most cutting-edge semiconductors, whose uses include the development of advanced AI.

These chips are also at the centre of the ongoing tech tussle between the United States and China.

Washington has taken a series of steps to block China's access to advanced semiconductor technology, including incentives worth billions to firms such as Samsung to move production to US soil.

qan/ceb/dan