According to a report presented on Thursday, sept. 10, by a group associated with the European business industry, European companies in China are increasingly afraid of being victims of “arbitrary punishment” amid an environment that is increasingly politicized.

Bloomberg News reported that in the face of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) control of the economy along with a growing presence abroad, the European Chamber of Commerce in China said the European countries should adopt a competitive neutrality.

In an annual position paper they also demanded that the CCP allow the return of foreign workers who have been excluded from the country since the emergence of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) Virus or COVID-19 pandemic.

The report cited the lack of reciprocity with the CCP since, conversely, all EU member states kept their doors open to Chinese citizens.

“Closing the gulfs between rhetoric and reality, market potential and market access, and the positive progress in China’s private sector and the regression of the state-owned sector, is in China’s immediate and long-term interests,” said European Chamber of Commerce in China President Joerg Wuttke.

Bloomberg pointed out that now the companies attracted by China end up involved in political issues, as well as in frictions due to the lack of reciprocity in terms of trade and investment.

“Companies are left navigating a political minefield during a health crisis of truly overwhelming proportions,” Wuttke said in a report based on working group contributions, surveys, and comments from its more than 1,700 members.

“While parts of the economy are opening up, the entrenched position of many local businesses mean foreign companies get access to little more than crumbs in some sectors,” said the European Chamber of Commerce in China.

According to Reuters, the report highlights the risk of deteriorating relations between the CCP and Europe, also related to the vulnerable situation facing Uighur ethnic minority in northwest China, as well as the controversial national security law imposed on Hong Kong that deteriorates its autonomy, which could affect European companies doing business in China.

The document also mentioned the increase of tariffs by up to 80% imposed by the CCP on Australian barley imports, effectively preventing a billion dollar trade, a measure that is considered to be widely linked to the escalation of political tensions between Canberra and Beijing, reported Reuters.

“The enduring and growing challenges facing European companies in this half of the economy are depleting business sentiment,,” the report said, “In the wake of the COVID-19 [the CCP Virus] outbreak, new obstacles have emerged that have left Europeans feeling decreasingly welcome in China.”