BEIJING (Reuters)—Global drugmaker AstraZeneca will seek to be a patriotic company in China that “loves the Communist Party”, its China president said at an event on Friday.
Wang Lei, who is also the company’s global executive vice president, made the comments at an event in the eastern city of Wuxi which the firm organised to celebrate its 30th year in China, according to a person familiar with the matter and photos shared with Reuters.
While many local companies have in recent years publicly pledged allegiance to the ruling Chinese Communist Party as President Xi Jinping strengthened the party’s role throughout Chinese society and its economy, such messaging is still unusual from foreign companies.
“Build a local, transnational company that loves the Communist Party and loves the country,” Wang said in his presentation to an audience of a few hundred participants, with the words flashed across the screen behind him.
AstraZeneca declined to comment.
The comments come as AstraZeneca has been increasing its bets in China with a $450 million investment to build a factory to make inhalers. Last year, China accounted for 13% of AstraZeneca‘s total sales and the company is China’s biggest drugmaker.
Since China started reopening its borders earlier this year following the end of its three-year zero-COVID policy, many heads of foreign firms include AstraZeneca‘s CEO Pascal Soriot and Apple’s Tim Cook have paid the country a visit to stress their commitment to China.
But a recent crackdown on consulting and due diligence firms by Chinese authorities is sending jitters across foreign companies, many of who had used such consultancies to conduct research on the market and prospective deals.
(Reporting by Joe Cash in Beijing and Brenda Goh in Shanghai; Editing by Kim Coghill)
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