Police questioned employees of the management consulting firm two weeks ago and confiscated a number of computers and phones, according to a Wednesday report from the Financial Times based upon the accounts of six people familiar with the situation. “We can confirm that the Chinese authorities have questioned staff in our Shanghai office. We are co-operating as appropriate with the Chinese authorities,” Bain and Company said in a statement to the outlet. “At this time, we have no further comment.”
The raid of Bain and Company offices in Shanghai came weeks after officers detained five staff members from the Beijing offices of American corporate due diligence firm Mintz Group. The company said in a statement made to Reuters that authorities shuttered operations for the business in China, additionally clarifying that the five detailed employees were all Chinese nationals. “Mintz Group has not received any official legal notice regarding a case against the company and has requested that the authorities release its employees,” the company added.
Beyond the two incidents, however, Chinese Premier Li Qiang and other senior officials have broadly welcomed foreign investments as the nation’s economy recovers from some of the most aggressive government lockdown mandates in the world. Cities such as Shanghai were closed such that many residents were unable to leave their homes for months, policies which further disrupted the worldwide supply chain and prompted some American firms to shift their manufacturing operations toward developing countries such as Vietnam and India.
The gross domestic product of China has expanded at an average of 9% since the country opened and reformed its economy more than four decades ago, according to data from the World Bank, enabling more than 800 million residents to escape poverty. The nation’s economy grew 4.5% year-over-year between the first quarter of 2022 and the first quarter of 2023, according to data released by the Chinese National Bureau of Statistics earlier this month.
The raids also occur as tensions between the United States and China heighten over several recent espionage efforts from the rising communist power, including a spy balloon that traversed the continental United States and reports of social media platform TikTok collecting data on American citizens. Other technology firms based in China have provoked concerns among lawmakers and prompted the Biden administration to increase trade restrictions.
The White House investigated Chinese telecommunications company Huawei last year over concerns that American cell towers using the company’s devices were transmitting data on military bases and missile silos to Chinese government actors. Worries over espionage have prompted state lawmakers to restrict the capacity of Chinese entities to hold land near military installations: the North Carolina House of Representatives unanimously approved a bill this week to ban the Chinese purchase of land within 25 miles of a military facility.
Chinese entities own slightly less than 1% of acres held by foreigners in the United States, according to a report from the Department of Agriculture. Canadian entities meanwhile own 32% of agricultural and non-agricultural land held by foreigners while citizens of other allies, such as the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, represent 31% of land held by foreigners.