U.S. commerce secretary Penny Pritzker, who is a leading a delegation of CEOs on a five-day trip to China, told CNBC progress is being made in addressing the concerns of American businesses operating in the mainland.
"One of the biggest concerns [American companies] have is about intellectual property protection, making sure that what they know how to do, they can bring to the market place, but that they're not going to lose what is so important," Pritzker told CNBC.
While China has laws in place to protect intellectual property rights, the problem lies in their enforcement, she said.
"We had frank conversations about challenges facing American businesses. They have said they want to address this because China wants to be an innovative economy," Pritzker said.
In a survey conducted by the American Chamber of Commerce and Bain & Company earlier this year, 47 percent of U.S. businesses polled said they felt less welcome in China than before, up from 44 percent last year.
Fifty-seven percent of respondents believed foreign firms were specifically targeted in recent enforcement campaigns, and more than 50 percent said such campaigns are having a negative impact on their intent to invest further in China.
Last year, several high-profile multinationals including Microsoft, GlaxoSmithKline, Qualcomm, Audi and McDonald's were the targets of aggressive probes around health and safety, anti-trust and anti-monopoly practices.