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China should create a 'level playing field,' Ericsson chairman says

China should provide the same degree of market access to foreign companies as Chinese firms are receiving in other countries, Ericsson's chairman told CNBC.

"It's obvious that if China is to be part of the overall global economy and be able to take its rightful part in the world economy, then market access and the level playing field — just as we have defined in WTO rules — are important for China to come into the world in the right way," Ericsson's Leif Johansson said in an interview at the China Development Forum.

Foreign businesses have long complained about the lack of market access and protectionist policies that benefit Chinese firms, and a European Union Chamber of Commerce report in March said that China had violated its free-trade pledges by inducing foreign firms to give up encryption and other technology to potential Chinese competitors.

Leif Johansson, chairman of Ericsson, said at the China Development Forum 2017.
Barry Huang | CNBC
Leif Johansson, chairman of Ericsson, said at the China Development Forum 2017.

China's technology industry has been a growing point of tension for the U.S. and Europe, who are concerned about losing their competitive edge as Beijing buys or develops skills in sectors such as semiconductors and environmental tech.

But Johansson said that he is "not concerned" about China's ambitions to acquire technology and be a leader in the space.

"We have been engaging a lot in China as companies and as countries. China is now engaging outside of China, which I think is a very natural development," he said, adding that Beijing just needs to go about it in a "peaceful, respectful way."

"It's very important that we hold on to what we have gained over the last couple of decades, which is a much freer world trade regime."

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