Beijing Issues Catalogue Banning or Restricting 'New Addition' Projects in Various Industries

On July 21, 2014, the General Office of the People's Government of Beijing Municipality published the Beijing Municipality Catalogue of Prohibited and Restricted New Addition Industries (2014 Edition) ("Beijing Catalogue"). The Beijing Catalogue was jointly formulated by 10 government departments at the Beijing Municipality level, including the Commission of Development and Reform, the Commission of Education, the Commission of Economy and Information Technology, the Bureau of Land and Resources, the Environmental Protection Bureau, the Commission of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, the Commission of Transport, the Commission of Rural Affairs, the Commission of Commerce and the Commission of Health and Family Planning.

The Beijing Catalogue marks a significant shift towards a more restrictive investment environment, being the first example of an 'investment' catalogue issued by China that does not encourage or specify areas open to investment but whose sole purpose appears to be to specify areas off-limits and restricted for further investment – the closest example prior to this being the Catalogue of Technologies Prohibited or Restricted from Export by China which is outward facing and quite different in nature. This note will explore the reasons behind the publication of the Beijing Catalogue and the implications for investors, particularly those who might have been planning to invest in a sector caught by the Beijing Catalogue. It would be easy to dismiss the Beijing Catalogue as being driven by air pollution concerns, but in reality it goes a lot further than just cracking down on polluting industries, with the sectors covered ranging from manufacturing to real estate development through to educational institutions. The theme seems to be more about trimming over-capacity and over-concentration of certain types of facilities and resources. The obvious question it raises and does not answer is whether this is just a local initiative or more like 'the thin edge of the wedge', and we will see this pattern replicated in other major cities such as Shanghai or elsewhere in China.

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