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China is telling business: 'Don't mess with us', says expert

12 September 2013 Last updated at 22:08 BST

Jim McGregor, Greater China chairman of communications consultancy APCO Worldwide, has given a critical assessment of the way China's government is treating foreign companies as part of its anti-corruption drive.

In a BBC interview with Juliana Liu at the World Economic Forum's conference in Dalian, China, Mr McGregor, a former journalist who has lived in the country for more than 25 years, said China's behaviour was "very worrisome" for foreign companies. "They don't know what's hitting them right now", he said.

The government is resorting to its traditional "toolbox" of coercive methods, he argues, including "shaming and ordering people to confess that they've done wrong so that your penalties can be minimised".

At the same time as offering entrepreneurs more opportunities, he argues, the Chinese government is saying: "Don't mess with us".

"They're just treating foreign companies the way they've treated their own for many years, and this is the way the Party does things", he says. "These are the tools it knows."

"What may be going on is they're telling foreign companies and they're telling private companies here: Behave yourself; remember we're the Party, we're in charge."

His comments come against the backdrop of a Chinese police investigation into alleged corruption by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), the British pharmaceutical company accused of using travel agencies to channel up to £320m of bribes to doctors and officials.

GSK has denied any corporate involvement in the alleged wrongdoing, whilst admitting that certain individuals may have behaved inappropriately.

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