(MENAFN - AFP) China's premier promised equal treatment for multinational companies operating in the country, as he opened a meeting of the World Economic Forum on Wednesday.
"China will continue to encourage foreign companies to invest and do business in China, and ensure that all companies have equal access ... and equal treatment," Li Keqiang told business leaders and politicians in the northeastern Chinese city of Dalian.
His remarks came after Chinese authorities targeted foreign firms including pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline in a series of anti-graft investigations, while other multinational and domestic companies were targeted in a price-monitoring probe.
China's government said the investigations were aimed at rooting out corruption and lowering prices for consumers, but analysts said foreign companies were unfairly targeted as an example to local firms.
The European Chamber of Commerce in Beijing earlier this month said China was at risk of creating "unfair and inconsistent enforcement" of anti-corruption rules.
Known as the "Summer Davos", the annual World Economic Forum meeting in Dalian, on China's northeast coast, brings together around 1,600 political and economic leaders, experts and NGO representatives.
The Chinese premier's speech is the main set-piece of the event, and it was Li's first time delivering it, following his ascension to head of government in a power handover to a new generation of Communist leaders completed earlier this year.
The participants this year include Wang Jianlin, newly listed as China's richest person by both Forbes magazine and the Hurun Report, a luxury publisher in China.
Li said in his speech he was confident that China would meet its stated goal of 7.5 percent economic growth in 2013.
China's economy grew 7.8 percent last year, its lowest rate in over a decade.