context: The updated foreign investment negative list further shortens the list of restricted items from 33 (2020 version) to 31, and allows greater access in the services sector in FTZs (free trade zones). On the other hand, national security-related sectors will remain closed to foreign investors and a new ban on media sector investment will take effect next year.

NDRC (National Development and Reform Commission) and MofCOM (Ministry of Commerce) jointly issued ‘2021 foreign investment market access special management measures (negative list)’, specifying

  • prohibiting foreign investment market access in 31 items in the following sectors
    • farming, forestry, animal husbandry and fishery
      • corn seed cultivation and production
    • mining
      • mining of rare earth and radioactive minerals
    • manufacturing
      • publication printing
      • TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) production
    • power supply
      • nuclear power station construction
    • wholesale and retail
      • tobacco retail
    • transport, storage and postal service
      • water transport firms and public airlines operations
      • postal and express delivery services
      • civil airport construction
    • IT services
      • foreign shareholding shall not exceed 50 percent in value-added telecom services
      • internet news and publication services
    • rental and professional services
      • legal services (except providing information on Chinese legal environment)
      • foreign individuals are not allowed to become partners of domestic law firms
      • social research and investigation
    • scientific research
      • human stem cell and gene diagnosis and therapy technology research
      • social science research
      • geographical investigation
    • education
      • K-12 education agency
      • religious education agency
      • pre-school, high school and higher education agencies are open to foreign joint-ventures but shall be controlled by the Chinese side
    • public health and social work
      • medical agencies only open to joint ventures
    • cultural, sports and entertainment
      • news agency
      • journal and newspaper publication
      • radio and television broadcasting
      • film production
      • cultural relics auctions
      • cultural and arts performance

An FTZ version of the 2021 negative list with 27 restricted items was released at the same time, allowing full foreign market access in manufacturing. Previous restrictions in automobile manufacturing, such as caps on foreign shareholding and the number of joint ventures owned by a single firm, were eliminated.