China said on Tuesday a raid by authorities on US consultancy Capvision’s offices in the country was aimed at safeguarding its “national security and development interests”.
“China’s national security agencies and relevant departments have recently carried out open law enforcement actions against the relevant company in accordance with the law,” foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said when asked about an investigation into the firm.
“This aims to promote healthy development of the industry and safeguard national security and development interests,” he said.
State broadcaster CCTV said on Monday Chinese authorities had launched an investigation into Capvision, a consulting firm based in the United States.
The report said the probe was based on findings by Chinese authorities that the domestic operations of foreign consulting firms had been used by overseas institutions to obtain state secrets and other sensitive information.
Official media in eastern Jiangsu province reported the investigation involved the raid of Capvision’s Suzhou office, as well as operations in Shanghai, Beijing and Shenzhen.
China has recently stepped up its scrutiny of foreign firms in the consulting and business research sector, detaining staff and closing the Beijing office of US-based due diligence firm Mintz Group in March.
In late April, Chinese authorities questioned staff at Bain & Company’s Shanghai office, the US consultancy giant said.
Bain, which provides strategy and management consulting services worldwide, said its employees had been questioned but did not specify why.
On Tuesday the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai said it was “concerned by recent reports about investigations of US companies in China that specialise in due diligence or consulting”.
“It would be helpful if the authorities would more clearly delineate the areas in which companies can or cannot conduct such due diligence,” president Eric Zheng said in an emailed statement, calling due diligence “essential to doing business in China”.
“This would give foreign companies more confidence and enable them to comply with Chinese regulations.”