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China takes aim at US firm

The raid on Bain’s operations in Shanghai is the latest sign of the strained economic relationship between the US and China

Daisuke Wakabayashi, Keith Bradsher Beijing Published 28.04.23, 04:45 AM
Representational image.

Representational image. File photo

In the latest official scrutiny of a prominent American business in China, the authorities visited the Shanghai offices of the US management consulting firm Bain & Company this month to question its employees.

In a written statement, Bain said it is “cooperating as appropriate with the Chinese authorities”, but declined to comment on the nature of the investigation and whether its employees’ phones and computers had been seized during the visit.


The questioning at Bain came less than a month after the authorities detained five Chinese nationals working in Beijing for the Mintz Group, an American consulting company with 18 offices around the world, and closed the branch. The five Chinese nationals were held overnight before their families were notified that they had been detained. China’s foreign ministry later said that the company was suspected of engaging in unlawful business operations.

Mintz had no immediate response on Thursday to a request for comment.

Companies that buy or invest in a factory or another company typically hire a business like Mintz to do what is known as a due diligence review, checking to make sure there are no hidden problems involving the target company. Bain, by contrast, provides corporate advice: Companies share details of their sales, operations and long-term plans with Bain to obtain an independent perspective on how they can improve.

The raid on Bain’s operations in Shanghai is the latest sign of the strained economic relationship between the US and China. Beijing is especially upset about restrictions imposed by the Biden administration preventing the sale of critical semiconductor-making equipment to China.

Without critical chip-making tools, China’s semiconductor industry will struggle to close the gap between leading firms.

Beijing is also unhappy that US law enforcement authorities have arrested two men in New York City, accusing them of helping to run an unauthorised Chinese police outpost to intimidate and control Chinese citizens.

New York Times News Service

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