China’s next economy czar is a Harvard-trained supporter of free markets who is President Xi Jinping’s top adviser but has no experience fighting the bureaucratic battles the post can require. Xi has sent mixed signals by affirming plans to build up state companies that dominate fields from energy to banking to telecoms.
Foreign companies complain that even when Beijing promises to open finance and other industries, it fails to follow through or imposes unappealing conditions such as ownership limits or a requirement to hand over technology. “Companies are getting very tired of promises,” said Jake Parker, vice president for China operations of the U.S.-China Business Council. “They want to see action.”